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You*! I want a front seat at the gi- 
gantic struggle between Capital and 
Labor which young Hollis McEachron 
finds when he comes up from the 
country byroads face to face with 
Big Business— strikes, riots, company 
police, and union meetings. 

If you are employed — if you are an 
employer— if you are just a spectator 
on the side lines watching this im- 
portant development in the func- 
tioning of democracy— you'll want 
to read this book! 

Every man and woman in America 
today is vitally concerned with this 
question. Treated as it is here, from 
a neutral and unbiased viewpoint, 
each side is focused in its true per- 
spective. Here are characters you 
will long remember, action you will 
not forget— a story which concerns 




From the collection of the 

o Prepnger 

^ Jjibrary 
t P 

San Francisco, California 


The Qompany Owns 
the Tools 

Digitized by the Internet Arciiive 

in 2006 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 

The Qompany Owns 
the Tools 




Copyright, 1942, by THE WESTMINSTER PRESS 

All rights reserved — no part of this book 
may be reproduced in any form without 
permission in writing from the publisher, 
except by a reviewer who wishes to quote 
brief passages in connection with a review 
written for magazine or newspaper. 



Bob and Eleanor Blakely 

The Qompany Owns the Tools 


sippi River, surrounded on all sides by endless fields of 
corn, the little town of Holden, Iowa, tried to sleep. 

Most of the citizens were willing to aid that slumber. 
Merchants dozed in their stores, and old men sat on 
the hotel porch and talked sleepily. 

The weather was hot and humid. Low gray skies 
held only a vague promise of rain. In the meantime 
the angry red mercury in the thermometers held fast 
at one hundred and two above. Mosquitoes and flies 
buzzed and bit the hot, uncomfortable inhabitants. No 
one wanted to move. Everyone wanted to relax and 
sleep, hoping to beat the heat. 

The sound of a hammer pounding on metal, an or- 
dinary enough sound during most of the year, now 
sounded and resounded, loud and annoying as a cheap 
drum being beaten at five o'clock in the morning. 

The sound came from a weather-beaten frame build- 
ing at one end of the one twisted street that went 
through town. Above the wide, barnlike doors, the 
faded words " Holden Garage " could be faintly 

seen. Outside, strewn around where they had been 
carted and abandoned, were several battered wrecks of 
cars. One or two, despite the fact that the tires were 
flat and that chickens were making them Into comforta- 
ble homes, had crudely lettered " For Sale " signs stuck 
on the windshields. 

Inside, however, the only activity in Holden was go- 
ing on. An old Ford truck, covered with the dirt and 
mud of many country roads, stood by the small work- 
bench. A grizzled farmer in overalls hovered anx- 
iously by one fender. " Pop " Farnham, proprietor of 
the garage, squatted importantly by the front wheel 
and looked through at the work being done. 

The light from a small electric bulb shone out from 
under the truck. And from where it shone came the 
hammer blows that were disturbing the sleep of Holden 
in the middle of a hot summer afternoon. 

*' How you comIn\ Hollis? " Pop asked anxiously. 

A grunt and more hammer blows were his only an- 

The farmer tried to look In at the motor. '* Think 
you can fix it, boy? ** 

Pop snorted, pulling out a huge red bandanna and 
mopping his face. 

** 'Course he can fix It. Hollis can fix any car was 
ever made. Can't you, Hollis? " 

There was another grunt, and more hammer blows. 

" Natural-born mechanic," Pop whispered loudly to 
the farmer. " Just seems to understand motors like 
people understands one another." 

The farmer nodded, unimpressed. 

The man under the truck wriggled on his back until 
his head was clear. *' Start the motor, will you, Pop? '' 

Pop creaked to his feet and got in behind the wheel. 
He stepped on the starter. Nothing happened. The 
farmer's lips tightened. " I should have gone to a big- 
ger garage," he muttered. 

" Hold it a minute," HoUis yelled. He worked un- 
der the truck for another minute. " Try again." 

Pop stepped on the starter, and the motor caught on, 
and ran. Pop looked out triumphantly. '* Told you 
Hollis would have 'er fixed in no time." 

Hollis MacEachron, his job done, pulled himself out 
from under the truck. He was a tall youth, lean to the 
point of being skinny, with a certain shy awkwardness 
in his way of talking. He was dressed in baggy cover- 
alls that were black with grease and grime. From un- 
der his round cap a wisp of hair the color of corn silk 
straggled out. His face was big, with high cheekbones 
and a strong bony jaw. He wiped his hands on a piece 
of oily waste and grinned at the farmer. 

'' Guess that ought to hold for a while," he drawled. 
" I can't see for the life of me how these cars hold up 
as they do, the way you fellows have to drive them over 
rough roads and through all kinds of mudholes." 

The farmer fumbled in his pockets and drew out an 
old wallet. He opened it, disclosing a few tattered 
bills and some change. '' How much do I owe you? " 
he asked Pop. 

Pop, always ill at ease where matters of money were 
concerned, puffed up like an adder and creased his fore- 
head as though he were doing some heavy thinking. 

His round red face grew rounder and redder. " Why, 
I don't rightly know offhand. How much would you 
say the job was worth, Hollis? " 

Hollis was silent for a moment as he finished wiping 
his hands. His deep-set blue eyes took in the battered 
truck, the obviously poor dress of the farmer, and the 
worn wallet with the few bills. 

" I'd say whatever the new parts were worth," Hollis 
said slowly. 

*' That 'ud be seventy-five cents," Pop said. 

The farmer held one of the creased bills in his hand. 
" Ain't you got no charge for your labor? " 

Hollis grinned and motioned with his hand. " That 
wasn't anything. I didn't have anything to do this aft- 
ernoon anyway. If you hadn't come along I would have 
had to listen to Pop tell me stories all day — and I've 
heard them all a hundred times." 

'' I don't like to have a man work for nothing," 
persisted the farmer. " Work had ought to be paid 

*' Tell you what," said Hollis. " Sometime when 
you have an extra chicken around, bring it in for me to 
have in time for a Sunday dinner." 

The farmer put the bill back in his wallet, torn be- 
tween being happy that he didn't have to part with so 
scarce a thing as money and the fact that he felt a 
chicken was small pay for the service that had been per- 
formed for him. 

*' Thank ye," he said to Hollis. ** I don't have much 
money, and I'd be lost without the use of the truck. 
I'll not only bring you a chicken, but, if crops are good, 

I'll see that you get some good corn and all the garden 
truck you want. I'll pay you back in good measure." 

HoUis flushed. " Don't you feel you owe me any- 
thing," he said. *' People ought to help each other — 
that's what we're here for. If the Lord gave me the 
kind of sense that makes it easy to fix cars, I reckon I 
ought to fix 'em." 

When the farmer drove off Pop looked severely 
at Hollis. " There you go again," he complained. 
" Hollis, how do you ever expect to save up enough 
money for that technical training if you don't charge for 
your work? Do you want to stay in Holden all your 
life workin' for me? " 

" Take it easy. Pop," Hollis smiled. " Fifty cents 
or a dollar won't make much difference one way or an- 
other to me, and I guess he needs it more than I do." 

Pop looked at the seventy-five cents he had charged 
for materials. Taking Hollis' hand, he put the money 
in his palm. " Take this," he said gruflly. " I've had 
them parts around so long I'd written them off as a 

" And don't argue," he said when Hollis was about 
to protest. " You need it more than I do, and what 
goes for the farmer goes for you." He stomped away, 
wiping his face with the big bandanna, not wanting to 
be thanked, because money matters always embar- 
rassed him. Hollis took the money and put it in a tin 
box that was on a small wooden shelf by his workbench. 
He had forty-seven dollars and thirty-nine cents now. 
He needed two hundred. He sat down at his bench and 
looked for the thousandth time at an illustrated book- 


let that was dog*s-eared and greasy from being han- 

That little book contained the dreams Hollls had for 
the future. Once he had the necessary money, he could 
take the course, and become a machinist. Then, with 
his natural ability, he was sure that he could get a job 
that would enable him to go even farther. Perhaps, 
someday, he would be able to attend an engineering col- 
lege. He wasn't impatient about it. Maybe he would 
have to wait five years, or even longer. He had his 
goal, and his course was set. The way Hollis figured, if 
he could go to a technical school and qualify for a bet- 
ter job, he would be able to save more out of his salary 
and thus be able to attend an engineering school. 

And so, while Holden slept under hot, muggy skies, 
Hollis MacEachron, his hammer now stilled, sat and 
dreamed of the future. 

Late in the afternoon it began to rain. The first 
drops raised dust from the dry country roads, but as 
the downpour increased, the dirt and clay turned to 
mud — deep, sticky, clinging mud, bottomless, slippery, 
and treacherous. The oppressive heat lifted under the 
cooling influence of the rain. The steady drumming on 
roofs caused the merchants to doze a Httle deeper, and 
the old men at the hotel moved inside, to look out 
through the big windows and rock and talk. And Hol- 
lis MacEachron, still at his bench, listened to the down- 
pour and continued to dream of the future. 

At six, Hollis put on a long slicker and a pair of 
boots and picked his way through the mud to Holden's 
one and only restaurant. 


" Supper," Hollls ordered as usual, and as usual he 
got roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, a tre- 
mendous chunk of pie, and a cup of coffee. It was al- 
ways the same: one night roast beef, the next night 
roast pork. Sunday was the one day of variety. The 
restaurant was closed that day, and HoUis was always 
invited to some house for Sunday dinner. 

He was an orphan who had grown up in the town. 
He had lived with relatives in Holden until he was 
through high school and working at the garage. When 
they moved away from Holden, he preferred to stay, 
working and living in the same building. He had fixed 
up part of the garage into a neat, cozy room, well- 
heated in winter by a small stove. Pop paid him a small 
salary, which was enough for him to live on, and he also 
got a commission on most jobs. 

Pop was eager for Hollis to go to technical school 
and, could he have afforded it, would have paid his way. 
As it was, he tried to give Hollis as much as he could, 
in order that Hollis might soon be able to make his big 
break for a career. 

After supper Hollis went back to his home at the 
garage. He stretched out on his bunk and read. Books 
were hard to get in Holden, and Hollis depended for 
his supply on the minister who came to Holden every 
Sunday to hold services. The Reverend Mr. Small was 
deeply interested in Hollis. Not only was he able to 
bring him books, but he was able to suggest reading. 
More than that, he was one of the few persons with 
whom Hollis could talk about what he read and how it 
might affect his future. 

Hollls was so engrossed in his reading that the tele- 
phone rang several times before he noticed it. He fi- 
nally became aware of it and, reaching out with his 
long hand, pulled it over to him. 

It was an emergency call. Hollis got the exact loca- 
tion. " ril be right out,*' he promised. 

It took him only a minute to climb back Into his boots 
and slicker and get Into the tow truck. The truck was 
especially equipped by Hollis for country emergencies, 
with four rear wheels, heavy chains, and all the tools 
needed for digging cars out of ditches. 

Hollis drove cautiously over slick roads until he 
came to the stalled car. His headlights picked out a 
large black sedan. Hollis whistled. One didn't see a 
car like that around Holden very often. As he came 
up a chauffeur stepped out of the car and signaled him 
to stop. The man's face showed great relief when he 
recognized the tow truck. 

Working quickly and surely, Hollis hooked his chain 
to the big car. '* When I give you the signal," he told 
the chauffeur, ** you put your car in high gear and let it 
catch easy-like." 

The chauffeur shook his head, sending a small spray 
of rain off the peak of his cap. ** Can't get it started. 
Something happened when I slid in the ditch." 

" O. K.," said HolHs. " I'll tow you back to the ga- 
rage and see if I can fix it up for you." 

He started the motor on the truck and put it in gear. 
The rear wheels slid around a little and spun in the 
slick mud, but they cut down into enough solid earth to 


give traction. With his motor gunned almost to the 
limit, but his left foot working the clutch as deftly as a 
violinist fingering his strings, Hollis got the truck under 
way and pulled the big car out of the sticky muck of the 

He drove home slowly, keeping an eye on the car he 
was towing through the rear-vision mirror, being care- 
ful not to swing it back Into a ditch again. Finally he 
was able to tow the car right Into the garage. 

Hollis jumped out of the truck and went back to the 
car. " This is It," he said. ** Like for me to have a 
look at the motor?" 

The back door opened, and an elderly man got out 
of the car. He was dressed in a manner Hollis had 
seen only in pictures — and in a way he had doubted 
people really went about. Spats, cane, black coat and 
hat, and a black bow tie that was in startling contrast 
to the dazzling whiteness of a starched shirt. Expen- 
sive jewels winked in the light as his ungloved hand 
moved to close the car door. 

The man himself was of medium height, with shaggy 
white eyebrows that he was in the habit of pulling close 
together above a pair of Inky-black eyes. There was 
about him an air of authority and power. He looked 
dubiously at Hollis, standing dripping wet in his long 
slicker with his corn-silk hair hanging wetly over his 

The man tapped the fender of his car lightly with his 
cane. " Have you ever seen a car like this before ? " he 
asked Hollis. 


** No, sir," Hollis answered. " But it sure is a 

The man ignored his compliment. " Then what 
makes you think you can fix my car if you've never seen 
one like it before? " 

"It's a car, isn't it?" Hollis asked. "I can fix 


The man smiled indulgently. " I think I'd better call 
a garage that is better equipped," he said, looking 
about at the humble fixtures. " I'm afraid you might 
do more harm than good." 

*' I was good enough to pull you out of the ditch," 
said HolHs bluntly. " Your car wasn't too fancy to go 
off the road and break down. An old Ford wouldn't 
have done that." 

The man fixed Hollis with an inquisitive stare. 
" What makes you so anxious to work on my automo- 
bile? " he asked. " I suppose you think I look wealthy 
and you'll be able to charge me a stiff rate. If that's 
your idea, it won't work. I'll pay what it's worth and 

no more." 

" That wasn't my idea," Hollis said coldly. " It's 
no more than fair that I get your business, seeing as 
how I got you out of trouble. But the real reason is 
that I'm anxious to get a look at the motor. I like 


" Go ahead, then," sighed the owner of the car. 
" Charles will assist you in any way." 

Hollis studied the car. ''About the only assistance 
I need right now is some directions on how to get the 
hood up. I don't see any handle." 


" Really now," protested the owner. *' I think It 
would be quite unwise for you to attempt anything. 
After all — if you don't even know how to open the 
hood — " 

" That doesn't mean anything," drawled Hollls. 
*' Cars are just like people in some ways. Take you and 
me, for instance. We don't dress alike. But Inside 
we're the same flesh and blood. That's the way It Is 
with cars. The outside appearance doesn't mean a 
thing when there's something wrong Inside." 

A flicker of a smile touched the man's lips. " Open 
the hood, Charles," he ordered. 

The chauffeur touched a dash button, and the hood 
raised slowly. A moment later Hollls was bending 
over the motor, eagerly taking In the details of its 

*' Try starting It," he ordered the chauffeur. 

Charles stepped on the starter. Hollis laughed. 
*' I'll have your fancy car fixed in three minutes," he 
said. " All that happened is that when you went in the 
ditch your battery cable was knocked loose. Any 
twelve-year-old boy could fix that." 

Still chuckling to himself, Hollis fixed the cable in a 
moment. The chauffeur stepped on the starter, and 
the powerful motor purred into smooth action. 

The owner took out a wallet that was heavy with 
large bills. " How much do I owe you except an apol- 
ogy? " he asked. 

" Dollar for the tow, nothing for the battery repair," 
said Hollis. 



" A dollar's not too much for that tow, considering 
the kind of night it is," said Hollls quickly. 

The elderly man said softly, *' Look, son, do you 
realize that most places would have charged me at least 
five dollars for the tow and would have made the repair 
job seem worth at least that much again, and that I 
would have considered that a bargain?" 

" I'm not most places," said Hollis. " Fm me. I 
charge what the job is worth. That's a dollar." 

The man looked at his chauffeur. *' Charles, I think 
I've found an honest man." He turned to Hollis again. 
" Let me give you a word of advice, son. This is a hard 
world we live in, and if you go about with your attitude, 
you'll find people taking advantage of you. You'll never 
get any place if you don't get in and scratch and kick 
like everyone else does." 

*' I'm not interested in getting any place that way," 
smiled Hollis. " I know what I want, and just how I'm 
going to get it." 

" Tell me about It." 

" I'm going to save up enough money here to go to a 
technical school. Then, when I can qualify for a better 
job, I'll work until I have enough to become a student 
at some engineering college. I think I'd like to be an 
automotive engineer." 

" And how long Is all this going to take? " 

*' I don't rightly know," Hollis admitted. '' The 
way it looks, it will be a long time. But that's what I 
want to do, and that's the way I see to do It." 

*' Haven't you ever thought of getting a better job 
sooner, so you could get to technical school quicker ? " 


Hollis nodded. " There were some jobs around that 
would have paid me a little more than Fm making here, 
but they weren't jobs that were mechanical. I figure 
that while I'm here I'm learning about the things I need 
to know." 

" Probably learned all you'll ever learn here. Lots 
of defense jobs these days. You'd be better off in one." 
He grimaced. " We pay big enough wages, that's cer- 

" I'm not thinking just about wages," Hollis an- 

The man searched in his wallet and took out a dollar 
bill. *' Are you sure that's all you want to charge me ? " 

'* That's all." He took the bill. 

The man put one foot on the running board of his 
car. He paused, then took a card out of his wallet. 
*' If you ever come to Motor City, drop around at Van- 
guard Motors. Show this card to the personnel di- 
rector, and you'll probably get a job." 

Hollis took the card, his ears still ringing. " You 
mean I can get a job in an automobile factory?" 
he asked, not allowing himself to believe what he 

" Of course," the man answered a bit gruffly, " only 
we don't make cars these days. Army trucks, mostly. 
Tanks. Need a lot of men." 

He got into his car, and Charles backed out of the 
garage and drove off. Hollis walked outside until he 
stood in the rain, still holding the card in his big hands 
as he watched the taillight of the car fade in the dis- 
tance. When it was gone he came to his senses with a 

^ 19^ 

start and hastily ran inside, wiping the rain off the 
card. He held it under a light and read: 

Vanguard Motors 
Jason D. Franks General Manager 

Hollis' hand trembled as he read the card over and 
over again. His gangly body straightened up, and his 
chin tilted to a new angle. When he thought of what 
that card might mean to his future, his nostrils wid- 
ened and he breathed in the dank night air in great 

All at once he wanted to race through the rain to tell 
everyone about his good fortune. His heart seemed to 
be much too large for his body and ready to burst out. 
He want to shout, and yell, and race around, and tear 
things up. 

He carefully put the card in a safe place, took off his 
slicker and hung it up, and sat down on the bed again to 
think things over calmly. But that was impossible. All 
he could think of was what it would be like to be work- 
ing at an automobile factory. Already he could see 
himself at work on some new model, working, perhaps, 
with engineers who had designed it. What a break for 
him I He would be working on new cars, with clean, 
shiny parts, and, best of all, he would be learning more 
and more about what he would have to know as an auto- 
motive engineer. 

Hollis switched off his light and lay in the darkness, 
thinking over the offer that had been made to him. He 



lay not moving a muscle, and, to outward appearances, 
fast asleep. But a vagrant ray of light that fell across 
his face touched his eyes, and they sparkled. 

Next morning, when Pop Farnham squeezed his 
short, stout body through the side door of the garage, 
he found HoUis whistling at his work. 

*' Dunno what you're so happy about," grunted Pop, 
breathing heavily from the heat. " Here it is only 
eight o'clock, and it's eighty-five in the shade. She's 
gonna be a scorcher today." 

*' Feller offered me a job last night," said Hollis. 

Pop squinted at him. " What doin' ? " 

" Building Army trucks." 

Pop sat down, puffing with the effort. " You hadn't 
ought to go to sleep so soon after you eat, Hollis. 
Gives you bad dreams." 

** It's no dream. Pop. He was a real big shot. I 
pulled his car out of a ditch." 

" Motor City's where they build cars," Pop observed. 
" That's a long ways off." 

" That's where the job is." 

" Eh? " Pop leaned forward, convinced that Hollis 
wasn't joking. '' Are you really serious, Hollis? " 

" Sure am." Hollis sat down beside Pop, absently 
wiping his hands on a piece of rag. The light that had 
come into his eyes the night before still burned. This 
morning, after a sleepless night, his face was drawn 
thinner than ever, until his skin was stretched tightly 
over the big bones in his face. " Pop," said Hollis. " I 
need help." 


Pop looked at Hollis' serious, taut face. " Hollis," 
he said, " you've been wrasslin' with your soul again. 
Who won?" 

Hollls sighed. " It's a draw so far. I want to go. 
Pop. It might be my big chance. It might mean catch- 
ing up two or three years. Now's the time to get a job." 

" What's the other side of the question? " 

** I'm afraid of getting sidetracked," said Hollis. 
" Motor City's a big place. Lot's of things going on. 
Maybe in the long run I won't save any more than I will 
here. And you need me here, Pop." 

" Automobile workers make eighty cents an hour,'* 
said Pop, as though to himself. 

" What will you do if I go ? " Hollis asked. 

" Eighty cents an hour is a good wage," said Pop. 

*' Money isn't everything," said Hollis. 

" You'll have to leave here sooner or later," said 
Pop, not looking at Hollis. " America kind of needs 
war workers." 

" There's that," Hollis agreed. 

Pop pulled out his big red bandanna and blew his 
nose vigorously. *' Drop me a card oncet in a while, 

Hollis threw down the rag he held in his hand. 
" Here I I haven't made up my mind yet," he said. 

" It's been made up for you," said Pop. " Hollis, 
you gotta go. You gotta develop the talents you got. 
That's what you got 'em for. You'll make a good wage 
and have a chance to become something." Pop's voice 
shook. " If you don't make up your mind to go, I'll — 
I'll — " 

T^ 22 ^ 

"What, Pop?'» 

" I'll fire you," said Pop weakly. " Then you'll have 
to go." 

Hollis put his hand on Pop's shoulder. " Give me 
to the end of the week, Pop. I want to talk to Mr. 
Small about it. He'll help me get the thing straight." 

Hollis went to his workbench and started working 
on a faulty carburetor. Pop got up silently and went 
out. Hollis heard him blow his nose again on the big 
red bandanna. 

On Sunday, Hollis went to church as usual. He wore 
his one suit — a blue serge that was already a little too 
short for him. His hair was slicked down with wa- 
ter, but a little thatch in the back insisted on standing 
straight up. Hollis let it go — as usual. He had other 
things on his mind that were more important than how 
his hair grew. 

After church, he and Mr. Small had Sunday dinner 
together at a home where both had an invitation. It 
was then that Hollis asked if he could have a talk. 

The Reverend Mr. Small, like his name, was small 
in stature and slightly built. But he seemed big. There 
was a way he had of taking a person into his confidence 
— an understanding way that seemed to make him 

He knew all his people. And long before Hollis had 
asked to talk with him, Mr. Small knew that Hollis had 
something on his mind. But he said nothing, prefer- 
ring to let the boy speak when he was ready. 

So when Hollis asked for that talk, Mr. Small took 
him for a walk in the country, where Hollis, surrounded 


by the great fields where growing things everywhere 
showed him God's handiwork, could express himself 
freely to one of God's servants. 

And Hollis did talk. He found words to express 
feelings that he never knew he had. He talked of what 
he wanted to find in the future, of his great love for his 
work, and this chance of going ahead. 

He also talked of how he hated to leave Pop and the 
things and the people that meant so much to him. And 
when he had talked himself out, he appealed for advice. 

" It's true about fairly high wages," said the minis- 
ter, " although there are probably many other prob- 
lems I do not know about and cannot give you any in- 
formation on. I have faith in you, Hollis, and in your 
steadfastness of purpose. But it won't be easy to keep 
a straight course." 

" I'll live a good life," said Hollis earnestly. 

The minister smiled. *' I don't mean that, Hollis. 
Of course you will. It's just that you're going into 
something that is so much bigger than you are, so much 
bigger than any one person." 

*' I don't quite understand — " 

*' Hollis, have you ever been to a large factory? " 

Hollis shook his head. 

" I can't explain mass production to you very well. 
You'll have to see it and be part of it to understand it. 
I'm afraid that you might not be able to conquer mass 
production. You'll find Motor City isn't Holden, Hol- 
lis. You'll be going into more than a new city and state 
— you'll be going into a new world. But I can't tell you 
not to go. It's the world of the twentieth century — a 


hard, mass world. The individual doesn't have an easy 
time of it. Tm afraid it might beat you down. When 
I went through a plant, I watched the men working. I 
saw something in their eyes, something that made me 

" Here were these men making money — I guess lots 
more money than I make, or even want to make — but I 
kept wondering about them, and thinking — Had some- 
thing happened to them? ' For what shall it profit a 
man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own 

^' Don't see just what souls have to do with machines 
in a factory," Hollis mused. 

" You'll know, if you go," Mr. Small said simply. 
" It's something I can't tell you." 

" I'd like to have a try at it," Hollis was talking 
freely. *' I haven't been able to think of anything else 
since that man left his card with me." He looked off 
into the east, as though by looking he would be able to 
see the tall smoking chimneys of Motor City. " I've 
been getting along here in Holden all right for a long 
time now, and I've been satisfied that I was doing the 
right thing and that I would be able to do the things I 
planned. Now it's different. It's as if something new 
has gotten into my blood. 

" I don't even know what a factory looks like, or how 
big it is. All I know is that everything in me wants to 
go and find out. I'm willing to take the risk of failure 
that I was never willing to take before." 

Hollis turned to face the minister squarely. " Should 
I go ? " he pleaded. " Will it be the best thing ? " 

^25 ^ 

The minister smiled. " Go, HoUis. I can't say 
whether it is the best thing or not. But In your heart 
you've already decided. Go, do your best, and take the 
good and bad like a man." 

" That," said HoUis, '' I will do." 




for Motor City. He had spent a full third of his sav- 
ings for a bus ticket, and the slim balance was tucked 
safely away in his pocket. 

He waited for the bus at the Holden Hotel. As on 
Sunday, Hollis was wearing his blue serge suit and a 
clean white shirt. His few belongings were packed in 
a small battered suitcase that Pop had given him. 
Also he had a small metal tool case and some tools that 
he had managed to buy over a period of years. 

Pop was on hand to see him off. The stout little ga- 
rage man stood with his hands thrust deep in his pock- 
ets and gazed mournfully in the direction from which 
the bus would come. Pop also had on a fresh shirt and 
his good pants, and his feet were squeezed into a new 
pair of tight shoes he had put on in honor of this sad, 
momentous occasion. 

Off in the distance, a cloud of dust rolled toward 
town. Pop pulled out a heavy silver watch and squinted 
at it. " She*s a comin*," he said dolefully. 

Hollis sighed. ** Guess you're right." 

They stood in silence, at a loss for words. Hollis 
felt a queer nervous tension in the pit of his stomach 
that made it hard for him to breathe. His mouth and 
throat were dry. 

The bus, dusty and half empty, pulled up to the ho- 
tel. Hollis bent to get his suitcase and toolbox, but Pop 
already had them and was starting for the bus. 

Hollis followed Pop and took a seat in the middle. 
Pop swung the baggage into the rack over Hollis' head. 
He pulled a big new blue bandanna out of his back 
pocket and mopped his face and the back of his neck. 
*' Sure is hot," he said, looking around. 

HolHs held out his hand. *' Good-by, Pop." He 
found that his words were sticking in his throat. 

Pop squeezed his hand. "Good-by — son." He 
tried to smile. " Don't forget me when you're fa- 


Hollis growled in simulated anger. " Pop, what do 
you take me for? I'll write regularly, and when I can 
I'll come back for a visit." 

The bus driver got in. *' Get your tickets ready," he 
announced. Pop took this as his cue and started to 
leave. Outside, he stood by the window where Hollis 
sat and mopped his face constantly with the blue ban- 
danna. Hollis slumped in his seat and looked out, feel- 
ing almost physical pain at tearing himself away from 
the surroundings where he had always lived. 

Then the driver started the motor, and the bus 
started to move off. Hollis waved to Pop and looked 


back. Pop was standing in the same place, waving un- 
til the bus was out of sight. 

The bus droned eastward. Iowa was crossed, then 
the Mississippi, and then the level fields of Illinois. 
When the bus stopped Hollis got out to stretch and eat 
a little. At night, while others slept, he stared into the 
darkness and listened to the whine of the motor, and 

Then, next day, when he came closer to Motor City, 
the country changed. There were more towns, and big 
cities. Hollis saw for the first time the squalid, barren 
city slums, the confusion and rush of the heart of a city, 
and the palatial homes that were in the suburbs. 

And then he whizzed through another confusion of 
traffic and buildings and factories, and he was in Motor 

Hollis got out of the bus, walked into the station — 
and was lost. Suddenly he realized that he didn't have 
any place to go. He had the card that would introduce 
him to the factory, but, other than that, he had no 
place. And now, in the late afternoon, it would be too 
late to go there. 

The first thing was to find a place to stay for the 
night. He walked over to the row of telephone booths 
and looked up the Y. M. C. A. He jotted down the ad- 
dress and looked around for someone to give him di- 

Hollis walked out of the station and saw a taxi driver 
leaning against his cab. He ought to know, Hollis 
thought. He walked over to the driver. 

Tir 29^ 

The man saw him coming and reached for his bags. 
** Where to? "he asked. 

" I wonder if you could tell me how to get to the 
Y. M. C. A.," said Hollis. 

** Get in. Til take you right to the door." 

Hollis looked dubiously at the cab. He had never 
ridden in one before and didn't know what he might be 
in for. 

" I don't know," he said to the hack driver. " I think 
a taxi is a little expensive for me." 

The driver looked him over. " You can afford two 
bits, can't you? " 

Hollis grinned. " Sure. But I didn't know how far 
I'd have to go." 

He got into the cab, and in a few minutes he was be- 
ing whisked through a terrifying maze of traffic. The 
cabby talked over his shoulder to Hollis while he drove. 

" First time in Motor City? " 


"How do you like it?" 

" I don't know," Hollis confessed. " It seems aw- 
fully big." 

"Got a job here?" 

HoUis leaned forward. " I'm supposed to be able 
to get one with Vanguard Motors." 

"Yeah? What's your trade?" 

" Mechanic." 

The cabby grunted. " I used to work there. But I 

A pang of uncertainty shot through Hollis. Quit? 
Why would anyone want to quit a job paying eighty 


cents an hour to drive a cab? " Didn't you like It? '* he 

The driver snorted. "What's there to like about 
an assembly line? Say, I quit that joint before I went 
nuts. It got so I was twitching In my sleep, thinking I 
was fitting pistons." 

" Fm a mechanic," HoUIs ventured. " Imagine FU 
get some kind of mechanic's job." 

The cabby wasn't convinced. *' You might, if you got 
enough pull." 

** I hear they make eighty cents an hour at the auto 
plants," Hollls said. ** Is that right? " 

The cabby looked back over his shoulder. ** Yeah, 
some guys make that. Some make a lot more — and 
some make less. Overtime counts up. Well, here's the 
* Y,' kid." 

Hollls got out and paid his quarter. " If you're 
smart," said the cabby, " you'll find a room down In 
Weston. That's where the Vanguard plant is located. 
It's about fifteen miles out." 

Hollls thanked the driver and went into the Y. M. 
C. A. building. He rented a room and went straight 
up, anxious to take a shower and change to some clean 
clothes. When that was over he ate a lonely supper 
and walked around the streets for a while. 

The life of the city flowed past him on all sides. Ev- 
eryone he saw seemed to be at home and he the only 
stranger. He felt as though he were in a foreign land. 
People went past him with their faces set and expres- 
sionless, each hurrying to some destination. It was in 
the faces of the people that HoUis noticed the greatest 


difference between the folks In Holden and those in 
Motor City. Many of the faces were pale, as though 
they were seldom In the sun. And almost every face 
was tense, as though the person was under some con- 
stant strain. 

The whole city seemed like that to Hollls — tense, 
rushing, nervous, never stopping to rest or relax. He 
felt as though he was In a gigantic whirlpool of human- 
ity that went writhing and twisting at top speed with- 
out ever finding a goal or resting place. 

He looked In the lighted shop windows and saw 
things displayed that he had never seen before. The 
prices he saw shocked and staggered him. In one win- 
dow he saw a fur coat for four thousand dollars. In 
others he saw sets of furniture that cost many hundreds 
of dollars and pieces of luggage that were calmly sold 
for seventy-five or one hundred dollars each. 

If there were prices like that — and there must be 
people who could afford them — eighty cents an hour 
didn't seem like so much, not half so much as it had 
seemed In Holden. 

Doubts gnawed at Hollls like mice in a corncrlb. 
Here he was in a strange city, with half of his money 
gone, and with his hopes badly shaken by what he had 
heard. In that moment he wished he had never left 
Holden, and he would have given every building in Mo- 
tor City just to be back again in the garage with Pop. 

Thinking of Pop made him go into a drugstore to 
buy a post card. He picked one with a picture of the 
Vanguard Motors plant on It and studied the picture. 
What he saw was a bird's-eye view of a cluster of fac- 


tory buildings that were big enough to make a fair- 
sized little city. Hollis turned the card over, chewed 
his pencil, and finally wrote : 

"Dear Pop, 

I got here all right. Tm going out to see about the 
job tomorrow. I'll write you a letter when I get set- 


After he had mailed the card to Pop, Hollis walked 
around a little more, and then returned to his room at 
the " Y." He sat on the narrow bed and looked out 
of the window at the thousands of lights that glowed in 
the buildings. He had never felt so alone in all his life. 

Finally he undressed and went to bed. Even after 
he had turned out his light, the reflection of outside 
lights brightened up his room. Hollis closed his eyes, 
and all at once he was aware of the noise of the city 
that never stops. 

He heard the grinding streetcars roar through the 
night — the great mass of sound that was a mixture of 
motors and voices, punctuated sharply every few sec- 
onds by the blast of an auto horn. 

The voice of the city came to him out of the dark- 
ness, and from a thousand streets. And the noise made 
him feel his strangeness and loneliness more keenly 
than any other thing. To the sound of this music Hol- 
lis finally fell into a tired sleep, a weary, homesick sleep 
that was troubled by vague, terrifying dreams. 

When Hollis awoke the next morning, he didn't know 
where he was for a minute. Then he remembered, and 


jumped out of bed, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. 
Now, in the morning, he felt more confident than he 
had the night before, and he was eager to get out to the 
Vanguard plant. He dressed hurriedly, packed his 
suitcase, and, carrying that in one hand and his tool 
chest in the other, he checked out. 

His first stop was for a light breakfast. He passed 
a number of restaurants before he found one he had 
nerve enough to go into. This was a place that adver- 
tised its low prices with big signs, and Hollis knew 
before he went in just how much he would have to spend. 

He ate slowly. The food was tasteless after what 
he had been used to in Holden, but it satisfied his hun- 
ger. Around him, men and women gulped their food 
hurriedly with one eye on the clock and the other on a 
morning newspaper. 

Again Hollis felt the nervous rush of the city — the 
almost frenzied race to eat, work, eat, sleep, eat, and 
work again. And again he was aware of the pale faces, 
tense and drawn. Hollis drank his coffee slowly, and, 
when he finished and got up from the counter, his seat 
was immediately taken by a man who had been standing 
behind him, waiting for a place. 

City traffic was heavy. Busses and streetcars went 
by, crammed with human cargo. The sidewalks were 
solid with a teeming, rushing mass of pedestrians. Hol- 
lis was caught up in the tide, pushed, bumped, jostled, 
and shouldered from every side. He let himself drift 
until he saw a policeman, whom he asked directions 
about getting to Weston. 


" Catch a Weston bus on this corner," the police- 
man told him. ** ItUl take you right to the Vanguard 

Hollis waited. A few moments later his bus came 
along, almost filled. He moved toward it when the 
door opened, but the crowd pushed past him, clawing 
its way in. Hollis was caught and held fast in the strug- 
gling throng. He didn't think it was right to push and 
shove others, and, as a result, the bus was filled before 
he could even get to the door. It moved off, leaving 
him standing there. 

When the next bus came, Hollis was in the front line. 
The surge of the crowd behind him pushed him up to 
the bus and inside. He found it awkward to move with 
his baggage, but he climbed in. 

A harassed bus driver was taking fares. "How 
much to Weston?" Hollis asked. 

" Ten cents," the driver snapped impersonally. 
" Step lively, step lively. Move to the back of the bus, 

Hollis had to put down his toolbox and search for a 
dime. People tried to squeeze past him, tripping over 
his box, shoving him, and treating him like some inani- 
mate obstacle. Those who were trying to get on, and 
who couldn't see, just pushed. Finally, red and sweat- 
ing, Hollis found a dime and put it in the slot. He 
picked up his toolbox and squeezed into the bus. 

Once the bus started, he was glad it was so tightly 
packed. He had no room to put down his baggage, and 
his fellow passengers were packed tightly against him. 


But despite the shaking and spurting of the bus, It was 
impossible to fall. 

Hollis rode for over half an hour before the crowd 
began to thin a little. Then he was able to look out of 
the window and see where he was going. 

The city had given way to vast flats and many small 
ugly residences. Back of the little business sections the 
tall chimneys of factories stood smoking against the 
sky. A pall of smoke hung over everything, gray, dirty, 
and hazy. Great square factory buildings covered many 
acres of ground, railroad tracks crisscrossed empty lots, 
and piles of old iron and junk seemed to be every place. 

In all, it was a bleak, dismal looking affair, and a 
far cry from the clean green fields of Iowa. 

Weston was a collection of stores and houses that 
clustered around the Vanguard plant like a flock of tiny 
bedraggled chicks around the mother hen. The bus 
rolled through its streets and stopped near the Van- 
guard gate. All the passengers got out. The bus 
driver relaxed and stretched, and prepared to make the 
return trip. 

Hollis got out of the bus, took three steps — and 
stopped. What he saw stunned him — set him back on 
his heels and left him gasping. 

Somehow he had imagined the Vanguard plant to 
be a tremendous factory — a giant, smoking building. 
But what he saw was another city. As far as his eye 
could see a high wire fence stretched In both directions, 
and behind that fence were dozens of gigantic build- 
ings. More than buildings, there were storage tanks, 
lines of railroad tracks, cranes, and scores of tower- 


ing, smoking chimneys. And it all went back, far, far 
back, beyond sight. 

He saw a freight train pulling a long line of cars 
through the plant grounds. It looked like a toy. He 
saw one of the parking places — and it was covered 
with thousands of cars, and more thousands streamed 
through the gates. 

And men! All the men in the world seemed to be 
coming on foot, alighting from busses, and swarming 
into the gates. 

Hollis stood before this colossus and stared. He 
seemed to shrink in size until he felt as tiny as the small- 
est speck in the universe. The vastness of the plant 
made him seem to shrivel into nothingness, and his 
heavy toolbox, so carefully built up and assembled, be- 
came less than puny. 

Hollis went to the gate. He had started through, 
when a guard reached out and caught his arm. The 
burly watchman pulled him to one side. " Let's see 
your pass." 

" I don't have one," said Hollis. ** I'm looking for 
the personnel manager." 

The guard looked him over. " You're at the wrong 
gate. Office building is at the south end. That's about 
three miles." 

" How do I get there?" 

*'Got a car?" 

Hollis shook his head. 

The guard laughed. " Well, you've got feet. Pick 
'em up and put 'em down, son, and you'll get there." 

The guard left Hollis to examine passes. Hollis 


took a firmer grip on his suitcase and toolbox and 
started out. 

It seemed like ten miles. The suitcase and box 
weighed like iron before he had gone very far. Yet 
Hollis walked alongside the high fence, plodding on- 
ward, and looking through at the plant. The farther he 
went the more the plant unfolded. There were long, 
low buildings that it took him several minutes to pass, 
and always behind these buildings others could be seen 
in the background, piling back as far as he could see. 

At last, dusty and tired, Hollis reached the main office 
building. He went in through swinging doors, and 
found himself in a palace — wide corridors, murals on 
the walls, expensive wood and leather fixtures, and 
well-dressed people working at their desks. 

HolHs consulted a big directory and found the per- 
sonnel office. It was on the third floor. He picked up 
his baggage again and walked up. 

He went in the right door and found himself in a 
room the size of a large hall. It was filled with men 
who sat around on folding chairs. All were poorly or 
roughly dressed. Most of them wore some variation 
of working clothes. A steady hum of conversation 
sounded in the hot room, and those who did not talk 
or read sat and looked out of the window or tried to 

Hollis found a chair and sat down. He took off his 
jacket and rolled up his sleeves, disclosing a pair of 
strong, tanned arms. 

While he sat there, more men came in. Hollis saw 
them go up to a window marked " Information " and 


get small cards. Then they found places to sit. Hollls 
folded his coat on his chair and also went to the win- 

A young, severe-looking girl sat at the window. 
"What department?" she asked mechanically, with- 
out looking up. 

** I wanted to see about getting a job," Hollis said. 

*' In what department? " the girl said, sounding an- 

'* I don't know," said Hollls. " What departments 
have you got? " 

The girl thought he was trying to be sarcastic and 
swung around to face him. '* We're only interviewing 
men with previous experience," she said. " Do you 
have any? " 

Hollis drew out the card that Franks had given him 
that rainy night. He handed it to the girl. " I fixed 
his car last week," said Hollis, " and he told me if I 
came here I could get a job." 

The girl's attitude softened a bit. '*Take this num- 
ber," she said, " and we'll call you when it comes up." 

Hollis took a small card from her. His number was 
84. He went back to his seat, still looking at the card. 
Number 84. He was a number now. A man's name 
didn't seem to mean anything here. 

When he sat down again a short stocky man in the 
next seat looked him over. "This your stuff?" he 
asked, pointing to the suitcase and toolbox. 

Hollis nodded. 

" I wouldn't go off and leave it," said the man. " You 
might not find it again." 


Hollis felt an unpleasant sensation. '* Thanks," he 
said. " I didn't think anyone would steal It, though. 
It isn't worth very much." 

The other man, who wore a pair of summer slacks 
and a work shirt, folded his heavy arms and smiled 
grimly. " You're from the country, aren't you?" 

Hollis flushed and nodded. 

" I thought so. Sticks out all over you. Look, kid. 
You're not in the country now. Around here it's every 
man for himself, see? Nobody cares for nobody else 
— not like the country, where everybody knows every- 
body else. If you've got something, hang onto it, be- 
cause, if It's any good at all, somebody will try to take 
it away. And that goes for jobs as well as anything 

**ril be careful," promised Hollis. 

" What you got in that box? Tools?" 

Hollis nodded. 

" What do you expect to do with them? '* 

*' I'm a mechanic," said Hollis, *' and I've worked 
with those tools for a long time. I've got the feel of 
them. So when I came here to get a job, I thought I'd 
bring them along." 

" You won't need 'em," said the man bluntly. *' See 
around this room? It's full of mechanics. For that 
matter, so is all Motor City. But they don't have any 
tools. The company owns the tools, kid. It used to be 
that a mechanic brought his tools to the job, but that 
was In the old days. Now the company owns the tools. 
All a man can offer Is his labor. Your tools won't be 
any good here even if they let you use theml " 

''How come?" 

" They ain't specialized. They're garage tools, for 
all-around repair. In here you use the one or two tools 
that have been built to do one special job and no more. 
Maybe it's a hammer, or a wrench, or a screw driver. 
But whatever it is, it's been built for one special opera- 
tion, and that's the one you do, and the tool you use." 

Number 27 flashed on the call board. " That's my 
number," said the man. " Good luck, kid." 

" Thanks," said HoUis. " Same to you." 

HoUis sat on the chair all morning, while the num- 
bers were slowly called. At noon the other men ate 
lunches that they had brought in sacks or lunch boxes. 
But Hollis, who hadn't foreseen this situation, went 
without lunch. He sat hungry and a bit discouraged 
as the day wore on and he was not called. 

His number flashed about three o'clock. HoUis took 
his belongings with him, heeding the warning he had 
received in the morning. He was shown into a small 
office lined with filing cabinets. A somewhat weary 
personnel official motioned for him to sit down. 

** This is your first application for work here ? " The 
official looked through some papers. *' I don't have 
any record of you." 

'* I just came to Motor City," said Hollis. " Mr. 
Franks said I could get a job here." 

The official took out an application blank and pre- 
pared to fill it in. 


" Hollis MacEachron." 


^41 ^ 

" Holden, Iowa." 

" No, no. I mean here." 

" I haven^t any yet." 


*' Twenty." 

" Previous job experience? " 

" IVe been a mechanic in Pop Farnham's garage in 
Holden ever since I was in high school," said HoUis. 
" That's where I fixed Mr. Franks's car, and then he 
told me to come here if I wanted a job." 

" Have you had any kind of machine experience? 
Tool and die? Lathe? Any kind of assembly-line 
work? Foundry? Anything like that ? " 

Hollis shook his head slowly. " Just been a me- 
chanic, that's all." 

The interviewer leaned back in his chair. 

"That's all right," he said brightly. *' Mechanics 
can learn." 

"But I know — " Hollis started. 

"We're putting men on in final assembly," the per- 
sonnel man interrupted, consulting a bulletin on his 
desk. " There are some tests and the health examina- 
tion. If you pass them, I'll send you down there." 

The next hour was a bewildering session of questions 
and answers for Hollis. He stuck out his tongue for 
medical observation, had his chest pounded, his blood 
pressure taken, and his eyes examined. After that he 
was given a long list of questions about his past health 
to answer. 

When he was through with the medical examination 
Hollis found himself facing several other examiners, 


one after the other. One gave him pieces of wood to 
fit together, another made him repeat numbers back- 
ward, and a third tested him in logic. 

Then he returned to the personnel man for the final 
verdict. He was given an identification card. 

" YouUl start out at fifty-seven cents an hour," he 
was told. " You'll be raised if you do all right." 

HoUis said " thank you " and went out. Fifty-seven 
cents an hour. That was almost twenty-three dollars 
a week. Less than he had expected, but still, it was 
much more than he had made at Holden. 

Anyway he was glad to be out in the normal world 
again. And to know that he had a job. And while he 
was on this job, he was to learn later, he was to ask no 
questions, answer none, draw his pay, and do his work. 

The next step right now was to look for a room. 
Hollis made the long hot trek back to the main gate. 
He would try to find the nearest place to that. 

From the gate he walked into the town. What he 
saw was less than encouraging. The side streets were 
lined with houses that were grimy from the smoke of 
the factory chimneys. There was a bare, hard look 
about the place and a grim monotony in the way most 
of the houses were built exactly alike. 

Hollis walked slowly down the street, looking for 
some place that had a " For Rent " sign. He saw sev- 
eral, but passed them up. They were big gloomy frame 
houses, built like big square boxes, with dark shades 
at the windows. In some of the rooms he could see 
ugly iron beds. 

So Hollis walked and looked for a place that seemed 


a little more homelike. He was about to give up when 
he saw another large house with a " Room and Board " 
sign in a front window. 

This house had been painted fairly recently, and 
there were white curtains at the windows. Somehow, 
there was a personal touch about the place, as though 
someone had tried to make a home of it. HoUis turned 
in at the walk and knocked at the front door. 

A tall old woman with white hair let him in. 

**rd like to see about a room, ma'am,** said Hollis. 

" Vanguard worker? " asked the woman. 

" I start tomorrow." 

*'Come in and sit down," she said. " You look all 
tuckered out. Where are you from? " 

*' Holden, Iowa," said Hollis, sitting down in a 
rocker. *' I thought Fd like it here better than at some 
of the places I just passed." 

" Maybe you will," she agreed. *' If you want to live 
here, you'll find other boys who work at Vanguard. It's 
fifteen dollars a week for room and board. If you want 
me to do your laundry, that's fifty cents more." 

" That's quite a lot for me," said Hollis. 

*'You won't find any other place much cheaper," 
said the woman. ** And they're not all as nice as my 
place. I try to make my boys feel at home." 

Hollis thought of the dreary places he had seen be- 
fore he came here. He couldn't see himself living in one 
of them. At least here he would have comfortable sur- 
roundings and some friendship. He was tired of be- 
ing alone and wanted to make friends quickly. " I'll 
take it, ma'am," said Hollis. 


" If you want to share a room with one of the boys 
you could do that for twelve dollars," said the landlady. 
" Jerry's a nice boy — about your age, I'd say. Easy 
to get along with." 

" Tell you what," said Hollis. " I'll take a room 
until I can talk with Jerry. If we seem to get along, I'll 
move in with him. Will that be all right? " 

The woman smiled. " Certainly. Now, what's your 
name? I'm Mrs. Billings." 

" I'm Hollis MacEachron." 

" Welcome, Hollis. I'm sure you'll find this a nice 
place to live." 

*' Would you like some money now, Mrs. Billings?" 
Hollis asked hesitantly. 

*' That's the general rule," she answered. " If you 
can spare it." 

Hollis gave her fifteen dollars. " If I move in with 
Jerry you can keep the other three toward next week." 

Mrs. Billings folded the money and put it in her 
apron pocket. *' I'll show you to your room, Hollis. 
By the time you wash up and rest a little, supper will 
be ready." 

Hollis grinned, and his blue eyes shone for the first 
time since he had left home. " It sure will be good to 
get some home cooking again," he said. " Restaurant 
food is all right once in a while, but after a day or two 
you get mighty sick of it." 

"You'll like my cooking," Mrs. Billings promised. 
" All the boys do. And most of them put on a few 
pounds after they're here awhile. You could stand a 
little more weight yourself." 


Hollls picked up his belongings and started for the 
stairs. He stopped with one foot on the first step to 
turn around and ask a last question: "Are there any 
churches near here? ** 

"Churches?" Mrs. Billings wasn't sure she had 
heard him correctly. 

" That's what I said," Hollis smiled. 

Mrs. Billings smoothed her apron. " Let me see. 
We do have a few not far from here. Two blocks 
south and six west there are three or four different ones 
right in a row. You can take your choice." 

"Thank you," said Hollis. " I'll go over Sunday." 

" You won't have any company from this house," 
Mrs. Billings told him. " The boys who don't work 
on Sunday sleep most of the day. Some of them go a 
couple of times a year." 

" I've always been pretty steady," said Hollis, go- 
ing up the steps. He found his room and went in. He 
hung up his clothes, took off his shoes, and stretched 
out on the bed, feeling very tired. While he rested, he 
heard some of the other men in the house come home 
from the plant. Their voices were plain and friendly 
as they talked. Hollis stretched out and smiled at the 
ceiHng. There were some things about Motor City he 
was going to like. 




Hollis fell asleep. He was awakened by the sound of 
Mrs. Billings calling, " Hollis, supper's ready.'* 

Hollis rolled off the bed and put on his shoes. He 
was still a little drugged with sleep and in a tired haze. 
He dashed some cold water on his face, pushed his hair 
back with his palm, and went downstairs to eat, and to 
meet the other men who lived in the house. 

The others, five in all, were all over the house. Two 
of them were hidden behind newspapers, a third lay on 
his back in front of the radio, the fourth was sprawled 
on the couch talking to the rest, although they weren't 
listening. The fifth was at the table in the dining room, 
munching on a piece of bread and butter. 

Hollis paused on the last step and murmured a low 
greeting to the man at the table, who mumbled, " Hi- 
ya," with a mouth full of food. 

Hollis didn't know whether to walk into the living 
room or sit at the table, so he remained by the stairs. 
Mrs. Billings solved that problem for him by bustling 
in with a platter of steaming food and saying, " Hollis, 

you sit here/* pointing out a chair at one side of the 

Hollis sat down in his chair. The man already at the 
table paid little attention to him. The impatient one, 
like the others, was dressed in ordinary working clothes. 

Also like the others, he was husky. But, despite the 
fact that it was the middle of the summer, all their faces 
were pale with the particular pallor of men who spend 
their time indoors. By contrast, Hollis' deep tan made 
him seem almost of another color. 

Mrs. Billings went into the living room and went 
around firmly taking the newspapers away and shutting 
off the radio. She scolded the men as though they 
were little boys. 

" Everything will get cold," she said. " My land, 
it*s a problem to get you to the table at every meal. I 
don't see how you ever grew up, any of you." 

The man on the floor in front of the radio sat up. 
He was about twenty-five, with a round face that broke 
up into a thousand merry wrinkles when he smiled. 
" Have a heart. Ma," he pleaded. "After a day at 
Vanguard it's a wonder we can even sit up at the table." 

He rose to his feet groaning. 

" What's the matter, Jerry? " one of the newspaper 
readers asked. " That new job getting you down ? " 

" Yeah," said Jerry. " For three years I've been 
used to moving my muscles from left to right. Now I've 
got a job that makes me move from right to left. My 
muscles aren't used to it." 

The others laughed and joined him to walk into the 
dining room. They all looked at Hollis when they 


came In, and then looked at one another understand- 

*'This is Hollls MacEachron," said Mrs. Billings. 
** Hollls, these are the men you'll have to put up with 
If you live here. She made introductions around. The 
early diner was Pete Strebo; the man at the radio, 
Jerry Landis; the two readers, both older men, were 
Harry Weldon and John Machok; and the talker, 
'' Gabby " Barnett. 

*' That's the only name we know him by," said Mrs. 
Billings, referring to Barnett. *' You'll see why after 
you're around here long enough." 

Hollis nodded to each in turn as the Introduction was 
made, and they nodded back. 

Once these formahties were over, five pairs of work- 
worn hands reached for the food and began loading 
five plates. 

Conversation was mainly about work and personali- 
ties at the plant. There was much Hollis did not un- 
derstand, but he listened intently. Just listening seemed 
to bring him closer to the great manufacturing plant 
in which he was to work. By the time coffee and pie 
were served, he felt that he was becoming a part of the 

Being new, Hollis was of interest to the others. They 
asked him the usual questions about where he was from, 
whether he had ever worked in an automobile plant 
before, where he was going to start in, and so on. 

** I'm surprised you got on," said Gabby. " The 
switch from civilian to military production has brought 
on a lot of layoffs." 


** It*s a good thing ' jeeps ' need headlights," said 
Jerry. " It's funny, Hollis, but a lot of men don't like 
to change jobs. If a man in motor assembly is laid off, 
sometimes he'll take his chances and wait for another 
motor job before taking one that is open in some other 
department, like body assembly." 

" It's like you said, Jerry," said Harry Weldon in his 
slow way. '' A man's muscles get used to moving one 
way, and it's hard to get them to move another." 
Harry, who spoke with a slight English accent, was near 
forty. He looked tired, in spite of the fact that he was 
larger than the average man. It was not so much a 
physical tiredness that Harry showed as it was a cer- 
tain spiritual weariness. Hollis got the impression that 
Harry carried dead hopes inside him, and that their 
weight was heavy. 

The men drifted back into the living room. Harry 
and John returned to the newspapers, Pete went out, 
and Jerry and Gabby sat to talk with Hollis. Perhaps, 
being young themselves, they felt a little closer to Hol- 
lis than the others did. Gabby was also about twenty- 
five, but in contrast to Jerry's round, good-natured face, 
Gabby's was sharp and lean, and he had a habit of 
bending forward as though he were about to leap into 
some kind of action. His nervousness was shown by the 
way his hands were always busy. Either he drummed 
with his fingers or turned a pencil in them, or else he 
chewed at his nails. It was tiring to be with him very 

" Will I be working with any of you ? " Hollis asked. 

Jerry shook his head. " No. Gabby and I are both 

In motor assembly, Pete's In the paint shop, Harry's 
over at the foundry, and John is In the forge." 

^Td hoped I would be," said Hollls. " I wouldn't 
feel so strange If I could look over and see someone I 
knew. Kind of moral support." 

Jerry smiled appreciatively. " I know how you feel. 
I was the same way when I first came here three years 
ago. I was from a little town In Ohio — In fact, you'll 
find a lot of fellows like yourself here, who came from 
small towns. Especially from Kentucky and Virginia." 

" It really doesn't make much difference," said Gabby. 
" Each department is so big that two men might work 
in the same section for ten years and never know each 
other. That even goes for the men you work with. 
You're too busy even to notice who the man next to you 

Jerry saw Hollls wrinkle his forehead uncertainly, 
and hastened to reassure him. '' It's not quite that bad, 
Hollls. But there Isn't much time to talk, and you do 
have to move right along." 

'' They told me at the employment office," said Hol- 
lls, " that I might have gotten a better job If I had been 
something else but a mechanic. That's still a little hard 
for me to understand. But with you speaking about 
foundries and forges. It sounds as though this Is a pretty 
big place after all. Still, it doesn't seem right that 
a mechanic can't find a place where they make 

John Machok put down his paper. He was a short, 
powerful Croat, with a black mustache and powerful 
arms. *' The machines," he said, '* they do the thlnk- 


ing. The men — they just stand and take care of the 

" In the old days, when work was done by hand, there 
was chance for good craftsmen. Take where I work. 
I tend a mechanical hammer. The machine is maybe 
twenty, thirty feet high. I put in a piece of white-hot 
steel and pull a lever. Down comes the hammer. In 
one blow it makes a complete part. Makes it better 
than a man could do by hand if he worked two month." 

John lapsed back into silence. HoUis was impressed 
with the bitterness in John's words. 

** Isn't there any place for a good mechanic ? '* HoUis 
asked, clinging to a thread of hope. 

" Sure," said Gabby. *' But not auto mechanics. 
They use good men in the tool and die work, and there 
are a lot of good machinists at work. But you don't 
have a chance there." 

" I'd like a try," said Hollis. ** If it had to do with 
machines, I'd soon learn to get along." 

*' You'll never get that chance," said Jerry. " The 
openings are all filled with graduates of the Apprentice 

"What's that?" 

" The stooge assembly line," said Gabby bitterly. 

Jerry gave him a quick, hard look. " That's where 
they train kids," he said. *' They take them out of high 
school and put them in what amounts to a technical 
school. They earn and learn. When they're through, 
they're ready to step into skilled jobs with the com- 


*' That sounds like a good thing to me," said HoUis. 
" It's more of a chance than I ever had." 

" There's nothing wrong with the technical training," 
Jerry explained. *' All of us will admit that the Van- 
guard school does a good job. It's the other stuff they 
teach the kids." 

" They get company propaganda pounded into them 
from every side," complained Gabby. " Then, when 
they get into the shops, they think it their duty to be 
stool pigeons. And you can be sure they're rewarded 
by getting the promotions." 

** Stool pigeons? " HoUis was puzzled. "What's 

** You are from the country," said Gabby. " Well, a 
stool pigeon is a low-down, dirty — " 

Jerry burst out laughing. " I'll tell you, Hollis. 
* Stool pigeon ' is what we call a man who runs to the 
company with information about what the men are say- 
ing. If somebody complains about something and a 
stoolie hears it, he runs to the straw bosses and tells 
them. The next thing you know, the guy who com- 
plained is looking for a job." 

" Does Vanguard do that? " 

*' Do it I " snorted John. " They invented it." 

Harry Weldon joined in the conversation to chide 
the others. " Take it easy on the lad," he admonished. 
" You make the plant sound worse than a concentration 
camp. If he's a man he'll get along." Harry leaned 
back. " We're there," he said dully. "Why, I don't 
know. But we are. And if the lad thinks he wants to 


work in the plant, he'll find out the good and bad for 

To Hollis, the question wasn't so simple. So far, he 
had heard many unpleasant things about the Vanguard 
plant. He had been given a brief glimpse of what mass 
production meant to the individual. These men seemed 
to hate their work, which was something Hollis could 
not understand. And yet, if they hated their work and 
the plant they worked for, why didn't they do some- 
thing about it? 

Hollis put that Into words. " Isn't there anything 
you can do to stand up for your rights ? " he asked. " If 
you're not getting treated right, why don't you do some- 

His question had a strange effect on the others. In- 
stead of giving him an answer, they shut up. Harry 
and John picked up their newspapers and began to read. 
Jerry looked vacantly at the wall. Gabby chewed at his 
nails and stared at the floor. 

Hollis looked at them in wonderment. Then he was 
aware that they were looking at him with searching 
eyes when they thought he was looking away. The 
warmth and friendliness of their talk suddenly chilled 
into a frozen silence. Jerry got up and turned on the ra- 
dio. Gabby started talking about some sporting event. 

Hollis went over to Jerry. He felt that he could 
talk to him better than to the others. " What hap- 
pened? " Hollis asked. "Did I say something 
wrong? " 

'* It wasn't you," said Jerry. " It was us." He 
smiled at Hollis, but there was a grimness in his smile. 


" You seem to be what you said, Hollis — just a boy 
from the country. But let me give you a word of warn- 
ing : Don't try to lead people into saying things. You 
might get In trouble/' 

Gabby stood up and stretched, yawning. " I'm hit- 
ting the hay," he announced. He went upstairs and Into 
his room. They could hear him singing off key. 

Cabby's departure was the cue for others to go off, 
one by one, until only Jerry and Hollis were left. 

" Have any working clothes with you? " Jerry asked 

" A couple of old shirts and an old pair of pants." 

" They'll do. I was going to say that If you didn't 
have any, I had some extra that you could borrow until 

The offer pleased Hollis. It was one of the few 
gestures of friendship that had been made toward him 
since his arrival. The very fact that another person 
had even thought of his problems made the world seem 
a little less cold, and much better to live In. Motor 
City, thought Hollis, could be the same as any town. 
There was always someone who was willing to lend a 
hand and help a fellow. 

They walked toward the stairs together. " We'll go 
out together tomorrow," Jerry advised. " I have to go 
past body assembly to get to my work, so I'll be able to 
drop you off at the right place." 

Hollis thanked him again and went Into his room. 
He thought over the proposition of having Jerry as a 
roommate. Jerry probably knew about the matter, and 
Hollis figured that his friendliness indicated that he was 

ready to accept him. Jerry, thought HoUis, appeared 
to be the kind of fellow he could room with. He de- 
cided to make the change. 

Hollis and Jerry did leave together the next morning. 
Gabby walked with them for a way, but then he had to 
turn off to go through another gate. Although both 
Jerry and Gabby worked in motor assembly, the build- 
ing that housed them was a quarter of a mile long, and 
as far as contact between them was concerned they could 
have been working in different cities. 

The flowing river of men and cars was at full flood. 
The endless thousands swarmed to the plant in the 
early morning. The way they went through the gates 
reminded Hollis of the way cattle looked when they 
were being driven into a corral. . 

The swirl and flow of the crowd seemed to swing In 
one direction. Something at the side of the gate seemed 
to be attracting part of the stream. Hollis looked 
over, interested. He tugged Jerry's arm. " Hey, 
look," said Hollis. 

Three men, each with an armful of leaflets, had got- 
ten out of a car that had been driven near the gate of 
the plant. The men worked in toward the gate, hand- 
ing out their leaflets to all who would accept them. 

What caught Hollis* eye was activity within the gate 
of the plant. Against the flow of men going in, a group 
of some ten men in business suits were pushing their 
way outside. 

Hollis had never seen plain-clothes company police 
before, but as soon as he saw the men coming away 
from the plant he knew there was trouble ahead. They 


were, without exception, big men. Hollls noticed the 
way In which they shouldered their way through the 
crowd, pushing and shoving, with scant regard for any- 
one. He noticed also that those who were pushed 
didn't stop to complain or look around : they just kept 
moving Inside. 

The crowd of men around the leaflet distributors 
broke and scattered. Hollls could see everything. 

The men with the leaflets saw the group coming out 
of the plant. They tried not to seem concerned, but 
Hollls saw them casting frequent glances in the direc- 
tion of the squad that was bearing down on them. The 
three men moved closer together, as though for pro- 

All this time they still held out their leaflets, speak- 
ing to the men who were going in. Hollls cast a side- 
long glance at Jerry. Jerry's face was white, and tense. 

*' What's going on? " HolHs asked. 

" Don't talk," Jerry hissed back. " Don't talk and 
don't look around. Keep on walking toward the plant." 

Jerry's tone sent a chill through Hollls. He sensed 
the violence that was in the air. 

Hollls looked around. He saw the squad approach 
the three men and surround them. Although their 
voices didn't carry to him, Hollls could see that they 
were talking — arguing. 

Suddenly one of the squad of ten swung his arm, 
knocking the leaflets out of the hands of one of the three 
men. The distributor bent down to pick up his scattered 
leaflets. The moment he bent, he was kicked by an- 
other squad member and sent sprawling. 


The kick was the signal for the opening of hostilities. 
Three squad men each picked one of the men with leaf- 
lets. In a moment the ground was Uttered with paper 
as the three men went down under the attack. 

Hollls^ mouth was dry. He saw the man who had 
been kicked try to rise. As he did, one of the squad men 
grabbed the rising man and pulled the back of his jacket 
up over his head, pinning his arms. At the same time 
the other two men slugged the helpless man with their 
fists, pounding him unmercifully. He went down, tried 
to rise, and was knocked down again. 

It was the same with the other two. They tried 
vainly to defend themselves against fists, brass knuckles, 
and blackjacks. They were clubbed repeatedly, beaten 
about the head and face, and kicked. 

One of the men went down. The squad men beat him 
with their clubs while he lay prostrate. That was too 
much for HoUis. He forgot everything except the fact 
that helpless human beings were being beaten. 

An exclamation of anger rasped from his throat. 
Once aroused, the calm, even-natured Hollis was 
aroused with the entire fury of his body. He started 
running toward the scene of the fighting, almost cry- 
ing with anger. 

Hollis felt someone grab him and try to stop him. 
He tried to shake off the restraining hands, but they 
pulled him back. Hollis was brought to a standstill, 
still struggling to get away. Then he realized that it 
was Jerry who was holding him — Jerry, whose white 
face was twisted as though he were in agony. 

" Hollis — Hollis I Stop it, Hollis I " 

Hollls tried to break loose. *' It's not fair," HoUis 
shouted. " They can't do that. Why doesn't someone 
help them?" 

Jerry pushed the protesting Hollis toward the plant 

" You don't understand, Hollis. Calm down and 
come with me. You'd be killed if you tried to inter- 

Hollis stood still, trembling. The squad had stopped 
beating the men. The three lay on the ground — 
sprawled in the awkward positions in which they had 
been left. Hollis saw the squad men putting away 
their clubs and mopping their brows with white hand- 

A siren walled In the morning air, and a police car 
came tearing from the direction of Motor City, screech- 
ing to a stop by the group of men. 

Hollis was exultant. ** Now they'll get it," he cried. 
" The police will show them. They ought to get ten 
years for doing that. I'll be a witness too." Hollis 
started toward the fallen men, and again Jerry had to 
drag him back by main force. 

** Don't be a fool," Jerry grated. " The police 
aren't going to do anything to the company men." 

The police jumped out of their car and approached 
the scene of battle. Hollis saw the company men greet 
the police and point at the fallen men. The police- 
men dragged the fallen men to their feet and shoved 
them Into their car. One of the policemen playfully 
slapped at the last man with his club as he pushed him 


Hollls knew that he was being led away by Jerry. 
The white heat of anger that had taken possession of 
him was now diluted by confusion. " Where are they 
taking the three men? " he asked dully. " To the hos- 

Jerry shook his head grimly. " To jail," he said, 
finding it hard to control his voice. " To jail." 

"Jail?" Hollis found that his own voice sounded 
unnatural and far away. '' I don't understand — that's 
not right, Jerry. The other bunch started the fight. I 
don't understand." 

Jerry looked around. They were far enough away 
from other men for him to speak. *' Look, Hollis," he 
said. *' I can't explain much now. Those three men 
were union organizers. The union is poison around 
here. If anybody hears you take their side, you'll get 
a dose of the same thing. So keep quiet, and I'll tell 
you what it's about tonight." 

They went through the gate. Just through it they 
were stopped by a uniformed guard and two squad men 
in plain clothes. 

They stopped Jerry first. One of the plain-clothes 
men growled, " Carrying any leaflets? " 


The second man looked closely at Jerry. " I think 
this guy is one of the agitators," he said. " Let's frisk 

" Frisking " was a quick, thorough search of Jerry's 
clothes. The company men seemed disappointed when 
they found nothing. *' You're too smart to carry them 
things in here, ain't you I " one of the men snarled. 


" But you better watch your step, buddy. We got an 
eye on you Reds." 

Hollis took his turn. Some of the fury still remained 
in him, although he retained sufficient control over him- 
self not to make any rash actions or statements. 

Jerry was waiting for Hollis a few feet farther on. 
One of the guards swung on him. " Get going," or- 
dered the guard, prodding Jerry with his club. " Your 
friend don't need any help." 

Jerry moved on, but Hollis caught a gleam of terri- 
ble hatred in his eyes before he turned and walked 

*' Any leaflets ? " they asked Hollis. 

"What leaflets?" 

*' Oh," said one of the guards. " A wise guy, eh? " 

*' No," said Hollis. *' I just don't know what you're 
after. This is my first day here." 

They searched him as they had Jerry. 

They found nothing. Disgusted, they pushed him 
on his way. Hollis stumbled, almost falling. " I don't 
like that," he said. 

The guards, who had been ready to examine the next 
man, turned on Hollis. They advanced on him as they 
had advanced on the unfortunate union men a short 
time before. 

The men stood very close to Hollis — so close that 
he had to step backward to prevent them from pushing 
him off balance. He saw cruelty in their eyes and no- 
ticed, even in this moment, that their faces wore the 
marks and scars of many battles. 

" An agitator, eh? " said the first, using what seemed 

to be a favorite phrase. " Listen, bo, this ain't only 
your first day here, it's gonna be your last. And be- 
fore we get through with you, you'll wish you didn't 
ever come around to stir up trouble." 

He stepped forward, as though to begin a violent 
attack, but his companion pulled him back. " Not here, 
Mike," he muttered. *' Too much is too much. Let's 
take him to the examination room." 

The men each took hold of one of HoUis' arms, 
clamping him tightly above the elbow and starting him 
forward. There was no resisting their powerful force. 
Hollis was half carried forward. As he was taken past 
the first building, he saw that Jerry had been waiting 
for him. When Jerry saw Hollis being taken away by 
the company men, his face became a mask of dismay 
and horror. The sight of his face made Hollis feel, for 
the first time in his life, a gnawing, ugly fear. 

The " examination " room was a bare cellar, fur- 
nished with one chair and one table. Hollis was pushed 
down in the chair while the two men began to remove 
their coats. Hollis knew what was coming. 

The first man, burly to the point of almost breaking 
out of his vest, lit a cigar. He puffed in silence, boring 
at Hollis with his eyes. Hollis looked back, his own 
gaze unwavering. 

The man got ofif the table where he had been sitting. 
With the cigar still in his mouth, he grabbed Hollis by 
the shirt front and yanked him to his feet. He slapped 
Hollis hard, full in the face. " That's for being fresh," 
he said, and pushed Hollis back into his chair. 

The other man, who had left the room, came in. 

" Chief will be here in a minute," he said. " Then we'll 
examine this punk." He began to roll up his sleeves 
with deliberate unconcern. When he raised his arms, 
HoUis could see the bulge under his vest where a bol- 
stered pistol was kept. Both men had the loops of small 
clubs drooping from their back pockets. Hollis hoped 
for strength and courage to face his test. 





task at hand. It never seemed to occur to them that 
Hollis was a human being. It was as though they were 
preparing to start work at any routine task — one in 
which they were skilled. 

Hollis felt great physical fear. That, he did not 
deny to himself. But more than the fear of violence 
was the feeling of helplessness. To be attacked and 
even beaten as a man is one thing, because a man can 
fight back, and retain his dignity even in defeat. 

But to be dragged to a cellar for the purpose of re- 
ceiving an inhuman, impersonal punishment, was some- 
thing entirely different. It was cold, and machinelike. 
Not even rage or hatred would accompany this violence. 
There was nothing personal involved. He was not 
Hollis MacEachron, a man they wished to destroy. 
He was merely a ripple in the smooth stream that had 
to be dispersed — an anonymous stone to be removed. 

While these preparations went forward the " Chief " 
came in. He was a slight man, neatly dressed, with 

mild, pale eyes that looked out from behind a pair of 
rimless glasses. 

At the sight of him, Hollis felt more hope. Some- 
how this quiet man did not fit into the picture of the 
expected violence. He was a man, Hollis felt, who 
could be talked to and reasoned with. 

The new arrival sat on the table and looked down at 
Hollis. One of the other men walked over to Hollis on 
heavy, deliberate feet. " Want me to make him talk? ** 
he asked casually. 

The Chief looked slightly shocked. " Has he re- 
fused to answer any of your questions, Mike? " 

Mike shook his head. " We haven't asked him any. 
But you know what these agitators are like. They al- 
ways need a little persuasion." 

" I don't think that will be necessary, Mike," said 
the Chief softly. *' Will it?" He directed his last 
question at Hollis. 

*' I've got nothing to hide," said Hollis, speaking to 
the Chief. " Ask me anything. Truth is, I'd like to 
know what it's all about." 

The Chief sighed, as though he were a man much 
imposed upon. *' That's what you all say," he com- 
plained mildly. " Do they teach you what to say when 
you are caught? " 

"Does who what?" asked Hollis. He was trying 
to make sense out of what was going on. 

The Chief dropped his mild tone, and in that mo- 
ment Hollis saw that it had been only a mask. The 
eyes that he had regarded as pale and weak did not 

change expression. In fact, as Hollis saw, they had no 
expression. They were cold, soulless. 

" You won't get very far playing stupid,'* said the 
Chief In a flat, dangerous tone. " My assistants will 
get the truth out of you by force if necessary. I think 
it better if you spare me the painful duty of allowing 
them to handle the questioning." 

The Chief opened a black notebook and took out a 
pen. " Are you prepared to answer my questions," he 
asked, "truthfully?" 

" I have been telling the truth," Hollis replied, his 
irritation showing in his tone. 

The Chief Ignored his answer, but asked him the 
first question. " Who sent you here to make trouble? " 

Hollis was silent. The Chief looked at him. " An- 
swer me,'* he demanded. 

" That isn't a question," said Hollis. '* It's an ac- 

The Chief lost patience. " You might as well tell the 
truth," he threatened, his voice rising. " We know all 
about you and your kind. The union sent you, didn't 
it? The union sent you In here to agitate and make 
trouble. That's true, Isn't It? " He pointed an accus- 
ing finger at Hollis. 

*' It's not," said Hollis, jumping out of his chair. 

Mike moved toward him swiftly and pushed him 
back again. " Watch your tongue," Mike growled. 

** Why don't you give me a chance? " said Hollis to 
the Chief. " I'll tell you how I happened to get here if 
you'll just Hsten to me." 


The Chief glanced at his watch. " All right, but 
make it fast. I can't spend all day with you." 

" This is my first day here," said Hollis. " I just 
came to Motor City yesterday." 

The other guard sneered. ** Then how does it hap- 
pen that you walk to work with Jerry Landis ? I sup- 
pose you ran into him by accident. Just like it's ' acci- 
dental ' that he's one of the big union agitators." 

" I don't know anything about Jerry," Hollis an- 
swered. " He happens to live where I do. The reason 
I came was that Mr. Franks — " 

The Chief jumped off the table. " Mr. who? " 

" Mr. Franks," said Hollis. " I fixed his car in 
Iowa a week or so ago, and he gave me a card to get a 
job here." 

The Chief slammed his notebook down on the table. 
" Why didn't you tell us? " he demanded. '' You not 
only wasted our time, but you just missed getting 
beaten up. You can trust us." 

Hollis blinked. He was more confused than ever. 
He looked from one to the other. The Chief had re- 
laxed. The two plug-uglies were putting their coats 
on again. One of them looked at Hollis and winked 
broadly. "Some actor, eh, Mike?" he said admir- 

The Chief prepared to go. " You've made a good 
start," he said to Hollis, " being able to room with 
Jerry Landis. But you almost overdid it." He chuck- 
led and walked out. 

Hollis concealed his bewilderment. Something was 
afoot, but he wasn't sure what it was. One thing 

seemed clear — they no longer regarded him as an en- 
emy. Why, he didn't know. 

Mike and his companion said to Hollis : " Get ready 
to act again, kid. We're gonna take you out. But just 
so nobody will get suspicious, we'll make out that we're 
treating you rough." They both laughed at the joke. 

The Chief came back into the room. " Where are 
you working? " he asked Hollis. 

" On headlights." 

** Hmmm. Think you could handle a speed wrench ? '* 

**I never have," Hollis admitted, "but if it's a 
wrench, I'll tackle it." 

The Chief nodded. *' Good. We need you in that 
department. It's a sore spot. I'll change your work 
card, and you can start right in." 

The two strong-arm men took hold of Hollis again, 
but this time he could tell the difference in their atti- 
tude. They pretended to hustle him out of the build- 
ing and, once in the open, they did release him with a 
shove that almost sent him sprawling. 

Hollis turned to look at them. They were grinning 
at each other and brushing off their hands to indicate 
a completed job. Hollis walked away slowly, looking 
for the building where he was to work. 

His mind was still in a whirl of confusion. The rapid 
succession of startling incidents that had just taken place 
did not seem quite real. One minute he was about to be 
beaten, and the next the very s^me men became friendly. 
The change had come when he mentioned Jason D. 
Franks. Why, Hollis didn't know. 

Perhaps the fact that he had been hired through the 

intervention of a prominent official of the company had 
helped. That seemed logical up to a point. But why 
had they tried to pin union agitation on him, and why 
had they taken his association with Jerry as a crime? 
And, finally, why did they think it was good for him to 
live with Jerry now, when they had been ready to attack 
him for it a little while ago? 

In both cases, the men seemed to think that he was 
something more than just a worker in the plant. The 
first was bad; the second, good. But what were they? 

One thing was clear. The union was poison around 
the Vanguard plant. He had seen enough to convince 
him of that. Had he been connected with the union, 
his fate would not have been a pleasant one. But now 
that they were convinced that he had no connections 
with the union, just what did they think he was? 

It was too much for HoUis. Maybe Jerry could ex- 
plain it later. Meanwhile, Hollis decided, he had just 
better watch what he said and did until he found out 
what it was all about. 

Whatever it was, he had certainly seen the ugly side 
of it. Hollis didn't know much about labor relations. 
He had no idea whatever of the problems involved. 
To him, it had always been a matter of working for Pop 
Farnham, and he considered that working in a factory 
must be approximately the same thing, only on a larger 

But something was amiss in this picture. Again Hol- 
lis felt that he had been swept up and enveloped in 
something that was much larger than himself. Dwarfed 
by the giant buildings, and lost among thousands of 


men, he had known the feeling of smallness and insig- 
nificance that comes to a man. But now, in this whirl- 
wind of mass production, he glimpsed the crimson 
streaks of hate and struggle that were shot through the 
whole scene. Hollis saw a company guard standing in 
front of a building. He felt the hair on the back of his 
neck tingle. For the first time in his Hfe, Hollis looked 
at another human being with suspicion. At that mo- 
ment he felt the first hardening of his shell. Hollis 
was becoming part of Motor City. 

As Hollis approached, the guard looked him over 
carefully, idly twirling his club. Since the earlier dis- 
turbance at the gate, there was a general increase of 
alertness on the part of the guards and the special 

Hollis, already more informed, held out his card as 
he approached the guard. " I'm looking for motor as- 
sembly," said Hollis. " Can you tell me where it is? " 

The guard looked at the card, then at HolHs. 

" Why aren't you in working? " he asked. '* You're 

" I was with a small man with glasses called 
* Chief,' " said Hollis. " I was supposed to work on 
headlights, but he changed my assignment." 

The guard nodded. "We gotta be careful," he 
said. '' If we let every Tom, Dick, and Harry roam 
around here them union guys would be in stirrin' up 
trouble all the time." 

He pointed with his club. *' Go in over there. Jim 
Stoner's the straw boss. He'll take care of you." 

" Thanks," said Hollis. 

^71 * 

" Don't mention It," said the guard. 

Hollls went over to the building. It was a fairly low 
structure, built of red brick, with the walls lined sol- 
idly with windows. It was In the shape of a rectangle 
and was spread out over a great amount of territory. 

All In all. It reminded Hollls of a tremendous air- 
plane hangar. Although he was outside, and the air 
was filled with the roar and clatter of machines work- 
ing outside, he could still catch some of the din that 
came out of this building. He hesitated outside for a 
moment, then went In. 

Despite all that he had seen before, Hollls was not 
prepared for the sight that now met his eyes. He 
stopped, breathless. The sight of machines working 
and men at the machines brought a rush of gladness 
and confidence to his heart. Here, at last, was some- 
thing he could understand. 

But the magnitude of the place I 

Almost as far as the eye could see, there were ma- 
chines in a seemingly tangled mass. The noise of a 
hundred different tools hammered and rattled, resound- 
ing against the walls and roof, echo meeting echo, 
mingling with more sound to create a formless, never- 
ending noise. 

As Hollls watched, his trained eyes caught the order 
in the apparent confusion. He saw the assembly lines 
roll steadily, and the men at them working swiftly and 
evenly without pause. He looked up and saw the pow- 
erful lights hung on girders that cast floods of illumina- 
tion on the men and machines below. 

He saw work. 

it ^^2 ^ 

Wheels turning, hammers beating, machines grind- 
ing, whirring, buzzing, whining. Everything was in 
motion. He saw engines and parts of engines moving 
along on different conveyer belts, moving from one 
group of fast-working men to another. 

Hollls was at once thrilled and appalled by what he 
saw. At that moment, for no apparent reason, he 
thought of Pop and the garage. He thought of the 
silent town, sleeping In the sun, and the sound of his 
hammer breaking the silence. 

His hammer would be neither heard not missed here. 

At once Hollls saw the meaning of mass production 
and understood what a small part he would play in it 
as he watched a thousand men at a thousand machines, 
each bending to his tiny task. 

Looking at them, it was almost hard to tell which 
were the men and which were the machines. Both 
moved with the same steady rhythm, repeating the 
same simple operation over and over again, never vary- 
ing, never changing. 

Hollls stared. He felt an impulse to turn and run. 
But he was like a man who stands on the deck of a ship 
and gazes down Into a maelstrom that both horrifies 
and attracts him. His fascination drew him closer to 
the machines, and the door behind him closed. Hollis 
jumped in. 

Jim Stoner saw the new man and went over to show 
him to his place. He had already been advised by tele- 
phone that Hollls was coming. Stoner was a tall, lean 
man with gray hair, and a leathery face that sagged in 
at the cheeks. 



Hollls nodded, giving Stoner the card. 

*' Tm Stoner. Your boss here.*' He gave Hollls a 
cold look. '* Think you can handle a speed wrench? *' 

" I can try," said Hollis. 

Stoner led Hollis into the heart of the giant maze. 
Hollis was all eyes as he passed machines, workbenches, 
and assembly lines. But the men at work didn't look 
up to watch him pass. Lack of interest was one factor, 
but greater than that was the need for them to keep 
eyes and muscles alert and on the job. The conveyer 
belt didn't stop to gawk at Hollis. It carried work. It 
didn't give the men the chance to stop even if they had 
wanted to. 

Stoner turned in at the end of a long line. Hollis 
saw the speed wrenches at work. Power lines hung 
down from the ceiling, and attached to the free end of 
each line was the wrench. 

The men who handled the wrenches stood before a 
belt that came past them just under waist-high. Every 
few feet a drive shaft rolled past, the big differential 
toward the workers. As one came abreast, a man 
would push his wrench forward, covering a started nut. 
He pulled the trigger. A brief " zzzzzt," and the nut 
was on. Then his wrench was moved back slightly and 
pushed over another nut, and that one was tightened. 

In the brief time it took for the drive shaft to move 
past a man, he had to tighten six nuts. Two men were 
working electric wrenches. Two other men started 
the nuts. 

The work of the starter was one that called for great 


digital dexterity. As the drive shafts came by, he had 
to scoop down into a box of nuts that was before him, 
and, working quickly and flawlessly, he had to start six 
nuts by placing each one on the proper bolt and giving 
it a quick turn. 

As Hollis came up with Stoner, the men glanced at 
him quickly, stealing precious moments from the task 
at hand. Hollis saw their faces — lips pressed tightly 
together in nervous tension, set expressions that were 
traced by deep lines. 

Stoner paused behind the man who was running 
the first wrench. *' You'll start here," said Stoner. 
" Watch Bill for a while. When you think you can 
handle it, tap him on the shoulder and be ready to start 
on the next piece of work." 

That was all Stoner said. He wheeled and walked 
away, leaving Hollis with the men. 

Hollis stood slightly to one side, where he could 
watch Bill work. The man was like a machine. His 
movements hardly varied a fraction of an inch from 
one piece of work to the other. Each time he started 
on the same nut and ended on the same one. He had 
his little orbit of work, and he followed it. 

Hollis was astounded at the speed in which the oper- 
ations were carried on. There seemed to be just enough 
time between one differential and another for Bill to 
finish the first and start the second. 

Hollis stood close and watched. 

Bill spoke out of the corner of his mouth while he 
worked, giving Hollis advice. 

" Get the rhythm," he advised Hollis without look- 


ing at him. " Time the line. You got just so much 
time to give each nut, see. You gotta divide your 
time right. Watch me. No wasted motions, see? 
Gotta take it easy, get in the swing of things. Wanna 
try it?" 

Hollis licked his dry lips. " Yeah, Til try." 

** All right. Stand close to me on the left. Get ready 
to take over when I finish the next one. Nothing to it. 
Just set your wrench and pull the trigger." 

Hollis went around back of Bill and prepared to 
take over. As soon as Bill finished he stepped back and 
handed the wrench to Hollis. Hollis took the handle, 
still warm from Bill's grasp. Already the next differ- 
ential was on hand. 

Hollis thrust the wrench forward quickly, trying to 
slip it over the nut. In his eagerness, he pressed the 
trigger before it was secure. The wrench skidded, 
bucked, and almost kicked out of his hand. Acting au- 
tomatically, Hollis let up and tried again. 

By now the part had moved along the line a little. 
Hollis shot an anxious glance at the man next to him. 
If he didn't hurry, he would be forced to move over too 
far, bumping into the next man. 

Hollis managed to get the wrench set the second 
time. Again he pressed the trigger. His tool whirred 
with power, but he kept the power on too long. He had 
a little difficulty pulling the wrench back and starting 
for the next nut. 

By the time Hollis had the second nut turned, he was 
soaked with nervous perspiration and trembling. He 
saw that he would never finish the other four nuts in 


time, and the next drive shaft was almost ready to be 
worked on. 

The man next to him spoke briefly. " Let it through, 
ril handle it." 

Hollis let the work go, and started on the next part. 
The second speed-wrench man clamped his own work 
down and managed to do Hollis' also. 

Hollis did better on the second piece. He got three 
down before he found himself worked down into the 
next man's place and had to give up. 

On the third one he was so nervous that he wasn't 
able to get even one. His hands shook too much for 
him to control them. " Bill, take over," gasped Hollis. 

He felt Bill take the wrench out of his hands and 
heard the steady *' zzzzzt, zzzzzzzt," as Bill brought 
order and efficiency to the job. 

Hollis breathed with difficulty. He was trembling all 
over, and his heart pounded against his ribs. In the 
noise and confusion and excitement, his head ached as 
though it were going to split wide open. Hollis felt 
sick. He needed air. 

" You're taking it too hard, kid." Bill was speaking 
to him. " You're a bundle of nerves. Relax. You're 
all tightened up. You can't work when you're like 
that. It's like with a machine. Machine's gotta be 
oiled so it runs smooth. Same with a man. Gotta have 
oil for blood. See, take it easy like this. You don't 
have to jerk the wrench back so far. That's a waste 
motion. Takes time you can't lose. Remember what 
I said about timing. Figure out your time. Swing into 
the same speed as the machine. Watch me." 

Hollis watched again, but he was sick at heart as well 
as feeh'ng physically sick. The self-confidence he had 
always felt when it came to working with machines had 
been carried away by his first contact with the assem- 
bly line. He was scared of the line, and of the work. 

Bill was calling him again. " Come on, kid. Don't 
take it too hard this time. Just take it easy. You got 
all the time in the world if you do it right." 

Hollis took over again. The feel of the wrench in 
his hands was reassuring. He knew tools, and he knew 
how to use them. After all, he tried to argue with him- 
self, if other men could handle the job, so could he. 
Everyone had to start sometime in his life. 

That helped. Hollis, learning by what he had seen, 
was able to do four nuts the first time, raised that to 
five, and soon was getting all six done. 

Bill stood behind him, cheering. " Nice going," he 
said. " Before long you'll want to do all twelve." He 
laughed at his own weak joke. " Just relax a little 
more. Don't tense up so much." 

But in spite of Bill's encouraging advice, there was a 
limit to what cheerfulness and assistance could do. 
There was no way to relax. The moment Hollis had 
spun the last nut into place, the next piece of work was 
in place, mutely demanding attention. 

Back and forth he went. Two steps to the right to 
meet the oncoming drive shaft. Then, six times in 
with his speed wrench, stepping twice to the left to 
keep up with the rate of the conveyer belt. Then two 
steps to the right to meet the next part, an identical 
twin of the one just past. Two steps to the left while 


the wrench sang out six times, and two quick steps to 
the right to start all over again. 

Hollis did a dozen or two — he lost count — when 
Bill stepped in again. " I'll relieve you for a little 
while," he said. ** You're coming along fine. When 
you're ready to take over next time, I'll let you have it 
for good. If you feel that you need relief, just holler 
for me, and I'll spell you." 

Hollis took a good rest. He tried to get his nervous 
muscles to relax a little, but they were slow in loosening. 
His stomach felt as though it was tied in a small hard 
knot inside him. 

Bill looked around expectantly once or twice, and 
then Hollis was ready to take over. He stepped in po- 
sition to take the wrench. " Easy does it," Bill advised 
again. " Don't let the line get you down. It'll try to 
hurry you, rattle you, and throw you off. But don't let 
it get your goat. Good luck." 

Hollis took the wrench again. He met the work 
with more confidence this time. At first it was a little 
hard, but he found himself timing the belt. Also, as 
he worked, he became more proficient in handling the 

With his natural feeling for tools, he soon was able 
to gauge how far back he had to pull his wrench, how 
best to zip effortlessly down the line of nuts, and how 
to time his every move so that his work consisted of 
flowing, easy motions, instead of abrupt jumps. 

At the end of an hour, Hollis was doing the job as 
though he had been working at it for years. It was 
very simple. 

^ 79 ^ 

He was waiting with poised wrench when the differ- 
ential came along. Then, moving slowly with the speed 
of the belt, his wrench was moved Into place. Easily, 
effortlessly, he spun the six nuts, and then he was mov- 
ing back to get the next part. 

It was really simple. He was soon able to time al- 
most exactly how long It would take to screw each nut 
on, and he was ready to turn off the power at the right 
moment, saving precious time. 

Back and forth he went again, but now he was the 
master of his job. 

But a job that a man can master in a short time Is apt 
to grow tiresome quickly. By the end of the first hour, 
Hollis began to get bored. After all, in the last analy- 
sis. It wasn't much of a job. You work a wrench and 
screw on a certain number of nuts in a given time. 
That's all right, up to a point. The work has to be 
done. It's Important. But It can get tiresome. 

Hollis thought again of his work in the garage back 
in Holden. Pop would think it was funny work for a 
man to be doing — just spending all his time tighten- 
ing six particular nuts on differentials. 

You didn't get bored in Holden, Hollis was think- 
ing. One day you worked on a motor, the next on the 
body. One car needed the carburetor fixed, the next 
had ignition trouble. 

That was a job for a man. The whole car was your 
field. You had a chance to use some of the brains that 
God gave you to figure out the problems that came up. 
And when you had solved the problem, and you heard 

T=f 80-^ 

the car running smoothly again, it was a sound to glad- 
den your heart. 

You could look at the cars on the street and feel that 
you were important to them, and to the people that 
drove them. That Buick, that Ford, that Dodge — 
they had all been in your care. You knew the peculiari- 
ties of each one. You knew cars almost as people. 
They were more than machines: each one had a dis- 
tinct personality. You could watch them going up and 
down the streets and feel good because you had done 
something important to keep them running. 

But this job I 

Hollis stepped to the right, meeting the next differ- 
ential. This was no job for a mechanic. A machine 
could do the work faster and better if the company went 
to the trouble of putting one in. 

Differentials going by — hundreds of them. What 
happened to them next was none of his concern. He 
didn't see them as automobiles, but merely as chunks 
of metal that demanded a brief amount of his attention. 

. . . Step, press, release, press, release, step, press, 
release, press, release, step, press, release, press, re^ 
lease, step, step, press . . . 

When you're a mechanic in a small garage, you get 
to love your work. You dream. You think of the fu- 
ture. Each new job teaches you something about the 
way cars are made and how they run. You even get a 
few theories of your own on how they should be built, 
theories that might someday be translated into better 
cars, safer cars. 


When you're a mechanic in a small garage you love 
your work. You're sort of like a doctor. You know 
your auto patients and the history of their ills. You 
almost know what to look for and expect. 

People respect your trade when you're a good me- 
chanic in a small town. Sometimes they travel quite a 
ways to take their troubles to you. It's a sign of con- 
fidence. Person-to-person confidence. They come to 
you as an individual, respecting your ability. It makes 
you feel warm and good inside when that happens. 
You're a man. You have your place in the society of 
your fellow men. 

Yes, you dream when you're a mechanic in Pop 
Farnham's garage. You lie awake at night and figure 
out how to fix that cranky truck. You look over litera- 
ture, and read about technical schools. You read books 
about your job, trying to improve your knowledge so 
that someday you can benefit more and more people by 
what you know. 

What is there to study about using a speed wrench ? 

Who knows or cares about the man with the speed 
wrench, whose contribution to a car is six nuts on the 

What kind of future can a man look forward to — a 
man whose day consists of two steps to the right, six 
jabs with a wrench while he steps to the left, and two 
steps to the right again? 

What kind of life is this for a man? What can he 
look forward to ? 

Hollis was young. He had forty or fifty years of 
work left in him. He realized that. But forty or fifty 


years of what? Of standing In that same spot, tighten- 
ing nuts on differentials ? Doing the same monotonous 
little job over and over again forever? 

"Zzzzzzzzt . . . zzzzzzzzzt . . . zzzzzzzzt.'* 

HoUis was weary. His arms ached from the steady, 
unaccustomed grind. His back ached. His head 
ached. He had been working — how long? 

Hollis staggered a little. The man next to him 
looked over sympathetically. "Another hour and a 
half until lunch," he said to Hollis. " It will go fast." 

Hollis swung his wrench. Another hour and a half. 
And then, the afternoon. Then the same thing in the 
morning, and the next afternoon. 

As long as the plant was open, he would not have to 
worry or wonder about what his job would be for the 
coming day. He would always know. Six nuts on a 
differential and a speed wrench. 

Hollis was tired. Very tired. The sweat ran down 
into his eyes, blinding him. His work was getting 
sloppy. He shook back his hair and rammed the 
wrench home again. He was falling behind. Suddenly 
he lost the smoothness of motion that he had found. 
Suddenly he was all tight again, trembling. The knot 
in the pit of his stomach was doubling him over. He 
was missing too many nuts as the work went by. 

Hollis raised his eyes for a precious second. He 
opened his mouth. His voice sounded strange and far 
away as he tried to call out over the din of the machines. 

"Hey, Bill!" 




wrench away from Hollis. " Go into the washroom 
and duck your head In cold water/' he ordered. 

Hollis nodded and walked away, his head hanging. 

He found the washroom and went in. Running a 
basin full of cold water, he plunged his head into it. It 
was cool and refreshing. The shock helped to bring 
him around to normal. 

He rubbed his face and head vigorously with paper 
towels, slapping himself into a calmer state. He was 
getting more quiet, and the trembling wasn't so bad. 

Two other men in the washroom watched him. 

"First day, kid?" 

Hollis nodded. 

"What department?" 

" Speed wrench," he answered, still feeling his weak- 

"Tough, huh?" 

Hollis nodded again. 

The man shrugged. " Don't let it get you down." 

He turned to his companion. " See you tonight." He 
stopped to look at himself in a mirror, frowned, and 
went out. The other man followed. 

Hollis felt rested enough to go back to the wrench. 
As he started out, he caught a glimpse of his own reflec- 
tion in the mirror. It startled him. 

On past occasions when HoUis had seen himself in a 
mirror, he had looked at a rather ordinary face, a Httle 
too rugged to be good-looking, but calm enough, with 
friendly little lines around the mouth and eyes that 
were always ready to deepen into a grin. 

Now HoUis saw a new not very pleasant person. 
His face was pale, almost haggard. The whites of his 
eyes were crisscrossed with red lines. He seemed thin- 
ner. He was showing the effects of the morning. 

Hollis went out and back to Bill. By now the 
*' zzzzt " of the speed wrench was a familiar sound. 
He had already begun to ignore the continuous din of 
other machines. He stepped up to Bill and got ready 
to take over. 

Bill looked at him closely. " Think youVe ready? " 

" I'll take it," said HoUis. 

" O.K. But don't wait so long to call me if you feel 
it getting you." 

** I'll call you," Hollis promised. He took over the 
wrench. It was easy to slide back into the rhythm of 
the work again. His nervousness was all gone. He 
concentrated on doing his job well, finding little short 
cuts and time savers. The wrench was light in his 
hands, and he forgot to think about himself. He was 


glad when the noon whistle blew, and, when the power 
was turned off, he felt a wave of tiredness come over 
him. His arms felt heavy, and his shoulders ached. 

The noon whistle was the signal for a concerted rush 
on the part of the men for one side of the shop. There 
HoHis saw a small line of food trucks. The men jostled 
each other as they got into line and began moving 
slowly ahead. 

HoUis went over slowly, getting at the very end of 
the line. He wasn't exactly hungry, but there didn't 
seem to be anything else to do. 

The line moved very slowly, in spite of the hurry the 
men were in. Hollis followed it forward. He was sur- 
prised at the silence that prevailed. There was a com- 
plete absence of joking and very little conversation. 

Most of the men waited for their turn at the food 
in utter, detached silence, looking ahead or down with 
vacant eyes. A few carried on short conversations, 
but the spark of life was missing from their words. 

Hollis was surprised that there was no horseplay. 
He knew that in most places where men work together, 
even at a harvest, lunch hour would be the time for ex- 
cess spirits to have their moment. In a way it was 
part of the work. It was as regular as sweat. 

Hollis missed it here. The men were silent, even 
gloomy. Those who were first in line, and got their 
food first, scattered to find secluded places to sit and 
eat, wolfing their food with machinelike quickness and 

The men directly in front of Hollis began to get 


restive. They leaned from one side to the other, try- 
ing to see what was going on at the front of the line. 
They were anxious and irritated. 

" Hurry it up down there," someone on the rear 
shouted. " We haven't got all day." 

There was an echoing chorus to his words, disjointed, 
plaintive : " Hurry it up 1 " '* Whassa matter with you 
guys?" " What are they doing? Handing it out with 
tweezers? " 

The rumbling sounds of discontent came out like the 
sporadic fire of rifles. From the front of the line there 
were shouts of advice to those on the rear — and not 
all of it was comphmentary. " You won't starve." 
''Take it easy — " 

The man in front of Hollis snorted in disgust. 
" This is the only line in the plant that doesn't ever 
speed up," he growled. 

His remark was answered by a few bitterly appreci- 
ative laughs. 

The man turned around to look at Hollis. " If they 
don't get a move on we won't eat," he said. " What 
are you doing back here anyway? I've got an excuse. 
Got a bad leg and can't run. You should be able to get 
here fast." 

" This is my first day," explained Hollis. Now that 
he had a chance, he asked a question that had been 
bothering him for a little while. " Does the company 
furnish the food, or do we pay for it? " 

" You pay for it," the man answered, smothering a 
cynical grin. "This ain't the Salvation Army, bud. 
The company don't give nothing away." 

" Hollls I " Someone was calling him from near the 
wall. " Hey, HoUis, come over here." 

Hollis looked over and saw Jerry propped against 
the wall, eating. 

" Come on over," Jerry shouted. " You'll never get 
through in time to get anything to eat." 

Hollis left. He wasn't really hungry, and he would 
rather talk to Jerry than eat at this moment. 

He went over, and Jerry found a place for them to 
sit. He offered Hollis half a sandwich. " Take some 
of mine," he said. " I've already had enough." 

HoUis shook his head tiredly. *' Thanks, Jerry, I'm 
not hungry." 

He noticed that Jerry was looking at him closely. 
Hollis looked down at himself to see if anything was 
wrong. Then he looked back at Jerry's anxious face. 

Jerry looked around cautiously. " I was just sur- 
prised," he said in a low tone. " I wasn't expecting to 
see you here — or looking like this." 

"Like what?" 

*' In one piece, more or less," said Jerry. ** I was 
afraid for what the VSP might do." 

''The VSP?" 

" Vanguard Special Police." 


A whistle blew. Jerry sighed. " Five more min- 
utes, then work." He started to leave. " I'll meet you 
outside after work." 

*' O.K.," said Hollis. He made no move to get up. 

" You'd better get back to your place," said Jerry, 
" wherever it is." 


** Speed wrench,'* said Hollls. '' But you just said I 
had five minutes." 

Jerry grinned, but not with mirth. " It doesn't work 
like that," he explained. *' When this whistle blows 
we're supposed to go back to our machines. When the 
next one blows the power is turned on Immediately, 
and every man has to be at work." 

Hollls climbed to his feet. " Seemed like a mighty 
short hour," he complained. 

" That's because we only get a half-hour for lunch," 
said Jerry. " Actually, It's twenty-five minutes." 

** See you after work," said HoUis. He went back 
to the speed wrench. Men were already standing at 
their places, waiting for the power to be turned on. 
Hollls noticed that they were fidgety, nervously assort- 
ing and straightening things, and seemingly anxiously 
waiting for the power to be turned on and for the ma- 
chines to start rolling. 

Hollls took his own place. The other speed-wrench 
operator was already waiting, his wrench ready. For 
the first time, Hollls saw that his co-worker was a Ne- 
gro. He was startled by that fact and by the fact that 
he had not noticed it earlier. 

The Negro was much larger than Hollls, although 
Hollls was no small man. His powerful muscles rip- 
pled under a smooth black skin when he moved. His 
head too was huge and powerful, but his expression 
was soft. 

He smiled at Hollis. ** How you feelin', boy? " he 
asked in a husky, musical tone. 

" Better," said HolHs. " Getting hot, isn't it? " 

" Gets hot enough to boil beans in the afternoon," 
said the Negro. ** Ain't so bad if you keep up on salt." 

" Keep up on salt? " asked Hollis. 

** Oh, yes," said the Negro. " Plenty of salt cap- 
sules is the thing. They got them in a little machine 
over by the drinking fountain. Look like aspirin tab- 
lets. They put back the salt in your body that you sweat 
out, and that keeps you from getting weak." 

"I didn't know that," said Hollis. "Just plain 
salt, huh?" 

" That's all. I like 'em. Suck on 'em like they were 
candy." The Negro chuckled. " Sure is funny, ain't 

"Yeah," Hollis allowed himself a tired smile. 
" Who'd ever think that about salt? " 

Their conversation was interrupted by a powerful 
hum as the electric current was turned on. In a second 
the machines began to roll, and work was on for the aft- 
ernoon. The first differential came up to Hollis. Au- 
tomatically — so much so that he surprised himself — 
he tightened the six nuts quickly, before he had time to 
think about it. And then the next one was ready. 

The big Negro spoke to him. " What's your name, 

" Hollis MacEachron." 


" Scottish," answered Hollis. Then he laughed at 
what he had said. It had just popped out. He wasn't 
as touchy as some people about the use of the proper 
word, but so many people had asked him which was cor- 
rect that he corrected " Scotch " automatically. 

" rm Freddy Brown,'* the Negro volunteered. 

*' Pleased to meet you," said Hollis. 

They fell silent, their conversation interrupting the 
smooth flow of their work. It was necessary to think 
in proper rhythm, or else it threw you off. 

Hollis cast a few sidelong glances at Freddy. It was 
a little strange to be working with a Negro. Hollis 
had seen Negroes before, but not many. Those he 
had seen were not like Freddy. They had lived in the 
poorest hovels in town and had charge of the lowest 

To Hollis, the Negro was a shuffling, unintelligent, 
inferior person. Hardly a person, in fact. Just as he 
had accepted other small-town viewpoints, Hollis had 
accepted the prejudiced attitude toward Negroes. It 
was something of a shock to meet one who was not 
only in possession of a job that was the equal of that 
held by white men, but one who was more efficient in 
the performance of that job. 

Basically, however, Hollis was not a bigot. He ac- 
cepted his discovery about the different position of Ne- 
groes much as he had accepted the other strange things 
he had come across. It was all a part of Motor City. 

The afternoon wore on. Hollis worked methodi- 
cally at his job, doing it well, although he was tired. 
Once, in the middle of the afternoon he called for Bill 
to relieve him and went to take several salt capsules 
with water. He didn't notice any change in his feel- 
ing, but he decided that if they were there, they were 
there for a good purpose, so he didn't debate the matter 
with himself. 

^ 92 ^ 

It helped Hollls to see that other men left the line 
from time to time for a pause. Bill's job, it seemed, 
was to relieve any man who wanted to pull out of the 
line for a few minutes. Bill seemed skilled at several 
tasks and was almost always busy at one job or an- 

Hour after hour, with only a few brief intermissions, 
Hollis worked at his speed wrench. It seemed that the 
day would never end. 

But it did end. The power was turned off, and ev- 
erything came to a stop. Once the switch was thrown 
it acted on men and machines alike, and it was almost 
as though the men were driven by electric power. 

For a moment after the work stopped, Hollis stood 
with the wrench in his hands, not knowing what to do. 
One moment he was working at a regular pace, and the 
next the work was over. He was actually lost and 
wished for the machine to start again. 

His hands still tingled from the vibration of the 
wrench. More than his hands. His entire body was 
shaken. Although the machines were still, Hollis' 
body was still going. It felt charged with electricity, 
and as he walked away from the assembly line he felt 
light on his feet and as though tiny bells were ringing 
in his blood. 

Hollis went out into the bright, hot sun. Even as 
he joined the thousands who were leaving, he saw men 
coming to the plant. There was only a little time lost, 
and then the night shift took over. 

The men rested all night, but the machines were only 
still for a little while. New masters — or servants — 


took over for eight hours, and In the morning the old 
shift would be back. Three shifts a day, eight hours 
each. The giant plant never stopped. 

Hollls walked through the gate. A hundred yards 
or so farther on he saw Jerry waiting for him. Hollls 
increased his pace until he had joined his friend. 

" How do you like your first day? " Jerry asked as 
they fell into step. 

*' Seems like I've been in there a year,'' said Hollls. 

" How'd you get on the speed wrench? I thought 
you would be on headlights." 

" So did I, but I guess what I think doesn't cut any 
ice around here. They decided to put me on the wrench, 
and there I am." 

Hollls looked over to where the three union men had 
been beaten in the morning. It seemed far away. Sud- 
denly he realized that he had not even thought of It all 
day. He saw a heavy guard of company police posted 
around the gates. All the scattered leaflets had long 
since been gathered up and destroyed. 

*' Wonder what happened to those three fellows? " 
mused Hollls. 

" Jail," said Jerry. " Probably get sentenced for 
trespassing on private property and disturbing the 
peace. Maybe even for inciting to riot, if the com- 
pany thinks it can get away with it." 

" It wasn't a pretty thing to see," said Hollls. " It 
hurts to see men beaten like that." 

"What about you?" Jerry asked. "When I saw 
you I was certain I'd never see you in Motor City 

again. The least I expected was to see you beaten up. 
What happened? " 

Hollis was about to tell Jerry the entire story, but 
he held back. There were many things he didn't un- 
derstand about Motor City and the Vanguard plant. 
The first thing he didn't quite understand was why the 
company was treating suspected union men the way it 
did. Secondly, he was puzzled by the change in attitude 
when he told the Chief he had been hired by Jason D. 
Franks, General Manager. 

There was something strange afoot — something 
Hollis was determined to track down. Until he did, 
he was going to keep his eyes open and his mouth shut. 
The company men had made several references to Jerry 
as an " agitator " and seemed to feel he was a particu- 
lar enemy. Although HolHs felt a strong liking for 
Jerry, he decided to withhold some of the things that 
had happened until he could see them all in their cor- 
rect light. 

** Nothing much happened," Hollis said. *' They 
were going to give me a thrashing for being fresh, but 
I guess I convinced them that I was more Ignorant 
than I was dangerous. So they let me go." 

" Country luck," said Jerry. " Hollis, you look so 
honest even the VSP couldn't doubt your word. And 
that is an achievement. How'd you get speed wrench ? " 

" Told them I was a mechanic," said Hollis, " and 
they changed me. Said they could use me there better 
than on headlights." 

*' I suppose you found out I was poison," said Jerry 


** They didn't cheer your name,'* grinned Hollis. 
** Kept calling you an agitator." 

" Everybody's an agitator to them," said Jerry. 
** The Fascists I " 

" The Fascists and the Agitators," said Hollis. 
" Sounds like two fancy names for sand-lot baseball 


" Only we're playing for keeps," said Jerry. 

*' Mrs. Billings said that you might not mind having 
me for a roommate," said Hollis. " It's all right with 
me if you still feel that way." 

" I'll help you move in," said Jerry. " We're going 
to have a lot to talk about." He smiled at Hollis. " If 
the VSP can believe you, I guess I can too. Maybe I'm 
sticking my neck out, but I'll take the chance." 

"What chance?" asked Hollis. "I'm honest. I 
won't read your mail and I promise not to wear your 
good shirts without asking you first." 

" That's not what I mean," said Jerry. 

They turned in at the house. " We'll talk that over 
tonight. Right now I could go for something to eat." 

Hollis discovered that he too was hungry. The knot 
in his stomach was beginning to untie a little, and he 
was shaking off the effects of his day at the line. 

Mrs. Billings met them as they entered the house. 
" Hello, Jerry. How did things go, Hollis? " 

" I lasted out the day," said Hollis. 

" He did all right," said Jerry. " They put him on 
a tough job and he made a go of it. Anybody else 

" Gabby," said Mrs. Billings. " He's inside reading 

the paper, and it's not doing him any good. What hap- 
pened at the gate this morning? " 

** What we expected/' said Jerry, bitterness coming 
into his voice again. 

Mrs. Billings looked at HoUis, then back at Jerry. 

*' It's all right," said Jerry. " You don't have to 
worry about Hollis. He was ready to take on the VSP 
single-handed. It was all I could do to hold him back." 
It was Jerry's turn to ask a question. *' You've seen 
the paper, haven't you? How are the boys? " 

" Pretty bad, I gather," said Mrs. Billings soberly. 
" But you know what we can expect from the Motor 
City Press J' She spoke to Hollis. " That's the only 
paper in the city, and it's owned by Vanguard." 

" What'd they say? " asked Jerry. 

Gabby, who had heard their voices, came stomping 
in with the paper clutched in his hands. " What do 
you think they said?" he demanded angrily, shaking 
the paper. " According to the paper, you'd think they 
were trying to blow up the plant. Listen." 

Gabby smoothed the paper and read aloud : " * A few 
moments after the union agitators appeared, the loyal 
workers of the plant made short work of them. The 
union men, whom the Vanguard management has 
pointed out as being outside agitators in no way con- 
nected with the plant, appeared just as the morning 
shift was going to work. They attempted to hand out 
leaflets and incite the workers against the company. 
Hardly had they started their incitement, when a num- 
ber of loyal workers, angered by this outside interfer- 
ence, rushed the organizers, taking away their leaflets. 

Only the timely Intervention of the Vanguard Special 
Police prevented the outraged workers from inflicting 
severe bodily injury on the agitators.' " 

" The liars I " Jerry burst out. " Loyal workers I 
The VSP, they mean." 

Gabby threw down the paper. " It goes on like that 
for half a page," he said. '' All about outside agita- 
tors who are trying to interfere with the company and 
make the workers pay tribute for holding jobs. And 
the big editorial is the same way. A lot of big words 
about the sacred right of a man to run his business the 
way he sees fit, without any outside interference." 

" You just wait," said Jerry grimly. " When we get 
strong enough we'll have a labor paper around here 
that will show these lies for what they are. What does 
it say about the fellows? " 

" They're throwing the book at them," said Gabby. 
** Everything from criminal syndicalism to trespassing. 
They'll get twenty years if the syndicalism charge is 
shoved through." 

"What's criminal syndicalism?" asked Hollls, 
speaking for the first time. " It sounds pretty vicious." 

" Treason, more or less," said Jerry. " According 
to the law. It Includes everything from inciting disloy- 
alty to the Government to wearing a red tie. It's one 
of those vague laws that can mean all things. Right 
now it means prison to those of us who are too active In 
the labor movement to suit Big Business." 

The happening of the morning took on new signifi- 
cance to Hollls. He remembered how awful had been 


that look on Jerry's face when he had held him back 
from helping the attacked union men. " Did you know 
those three men? " he asked Jerry. 

Jerry nodded. " They're friends of mine, Hollis. 
Good friends." Jerry seemed older as he talked. " It 
wasn't easy to stand back and watch," he said. " I 
wanted to rush in and help as much as you did, but so 
did the company." 

"The company?'* Hollis found that hard to be- 

" Sure," said Jerry. " What they wanted was for us 
to help out our boys. Then there would have been a 
regular free-for-all. A real riot to blame on the union. 
Besides that, it would have given them the chance to 
spot union men who are working in the plant." 

As Jerry talked, Hollis got a new view of his friend. 
He saw a backbone of steel. 

" I was afraid that would happen If I let you go," 
said Jerry. " Others would have followed you. But 
that's the wrong thing to do, no matter how you feel. 
If the union Is going to succeed, we have to have disci- 
pline, no matter what the situation is.'* 

" Did those three fellows know they wouldn't get 
any help?" Hollis asked. 

Jerry nodded. ** They were the ones who insisted 
that we keep hands off." 

" They're pretty brave," said Hollis. 

" They're the leaders of the union," said Jerry. 

" The leaders ? " Hollis couldn't quite believe what 
he heard. " You mean the leaders actually do that? " 

^ ggii 

" Part of their work," said Gabby. 

Hollis shook his head. " That sure doesn't jibe with 
a lot of things IVe heard about unions," he said. 

" I don't imagine it does," said Jerry, showing a flash 
of grim humor. " It isn't true of all unions, but it is of 


" You have to respect men like that," said Hollis. 

" Respect isn't enough," said Jerry harshly. He 
grasped Hollis by the shoulder. *' I meant to wait 
awhile before asking you this, but I'm asking you now. 
Will you join the GEIU?" 

" The — what? " Hollis asked. 

" The Gas Engine International Union," said Jerry. 
" I'm showing you my hand, Hollis. You know what 
it would mean if the company finds out. I'm taking my 
chances with you. Are you with us? Will you join 

Jerry, Mrs. Billings, and Gabby all looked at Hollis 
expectantly. Mrs. Billings wiped her hands mechani- 
cally on her apron. Gabby was tearing little pieces off 
the newspaper, wadding them between his fingers and 
flicking them away. Jerry looked Hollis in the face 
and waited for his answer. 

Hollis took a deep breath. 

^' No, Jerry," he said, handing back an application 
card that Jerry had given him. '* I'm not joining." 



what Hollis said. Jerry reached out mechanically and 
took the application card. 

" Tm sorry,'* said Hollis. 

His words broke the spell. Gabby, who had been 
waiting tensely for his answer, seemed to crack. The 
strain of the day's events was suddenly brought to a 
head. His face showed the rushing emotions of dis- 
appointment, doubt, and, finally, suspicion. These and 
fear exploded him into an impassioned outburst. 

" Sorry! " he choked. He swung on Jerry. " I told 
you not to," he shouted, his voice breaking. *' Now 
look what you've done. We're exposed — all of us.'* 
Gabby turned back to Hollis. His fear led him to 
make wild, useless threats. He spoke without think- 
ing. " If the VSP beats me up I'll know where they 
got their information. It'll be your fault. We'll know 
who the spy was, and we'll get you — " 

*' Gabby!" Jerry grabbed Gabby by the shoulder 
and pushed him back against the wall. " Shut up," 
Jerry said fiercely. "Do you hear? Shut up!" 

Gabby stopped talking. He leaned against the wall, 
breathing heavily, watching Hollis. 

Jerry spoke to Hollis. His voice was even, but there 
was no softness in his tone. " Why won't you join, 

Hollis was glad to have things back at a normal 
state. " It wouldn't be fair to me or the union," he 
said. " I don't know anything about unions. I've 
heard quite a bit about them, but it's mostly been bad." 

** Is that your only reason? " 

" I'd say it was," said Hollis. " I'll join your union 
when and if I'm convinced it's the thing for me to do, 
but not before." 

HoHis spoke to Gabby. *' I'm no spy," he said. *' I 
don't like to be called names. One of the first things I 
want to know is why you act like being a union member 
is outside the law — if the union is such a good thing as 
you say." 

" Gabby didn't mean anything," said Jerry. ** It's 
been a tough day for us, Hollis." 

Hollis thought back to the plant. He could see how 
it might make a man high-strung after he'd been work- 
ing on the assembly line for a couple of years. And after 
what had happened at the gate — well, he could see 
Gabby's point. 

"Jerry's right," said Gabby, his twitching fingers 
the only outward sign of his feelings. " If you had been 
what I said, you would have jumped at the chance to 
join. The trouble with me is that I didn't recognize an 
honest man when I saw one. No hard feelings? " He 
put out his hand. 

^ 102^ 

" None at all/' smiled Hollis. 

" Well/' Mrs. Billings sighed with relief. " That's 
over. Run along into the front room, all of you, while 
I get supper." 

They went out at her request, picking the three most 
comfortable places in the front room to relax. Once 
he was off his feet, Hollis felt a wave of weariness 
sweep over him. Given a chance to get attention, every 
muscle began aching and crying for sympathy. 

Jerry also sprawled in a chair, giving his body a 
chance to forget the incessant routine of the working 
day. Gabby couldn't sit still. He sat down for a mo- 
ment, but then he was up, chasing flies with a folded 
newspaper, stalking them ceaselessly and with stern 

Gabby chased a fly into the other room. Hollis 
watched him. ** Does it every day," said Jerry in a low 
tone. '^ So do the others. So do I, sometimes. You'll 
be doing it too." 

Hollis smiled. Jerry mistook the nature of it. 
** You will be," he said. " Everybody is like that after 
work. For half an hour or so you feel as though you'll 
never be able to relax. You're so tired you're ready to 
drop, but somehow you can't sit still." 

** Like deep-sea divers," said Hollis. " I read once 
how they have to pull the divers up slowly so they can 
get accustomed to the change in pressure." 

" Something like that," said Jerry. " Our work 
stops so suddenly that we seem to need a little while to 
adjust ourselves. We usually don't talk very much be- 
fore supper. We're all on edge and irritable." 

ir 103 ir 

" Thanks for the tip/* said Hollls. 

One after another, Harry Weldon, John Machok 
and Pete Strebo came in. They nodded briefly and 
went by, going up the stairs to their rooms. 

A few minutes later Pete came down and sat at the 
table. He took a slice of bread, broke it into many 
small pieces, and slowly buttered the fragments one at 
a time, eating each one as it was buttered. He paid no 
attention to the others, but kept intent on the job at 

After supper, the men returned to the front room. 
Jerry went up to his room and brought down several 
pamphlets dealing with unionism that he gave to HoUis. 
Harry's eyes widened a little as he saw this. 

" I've asked Hollis to join," Jerry explained. '' He's 
not ready yet." 

Harry nodded approvingly. " Think it over, lad," 
he said. " You'll be a better member if you join." 

Hollis sat down by a lamp and looked through the 
pamphlets. The others conversed in low tones about 
the events that had happened during the day. 

Some time later Hollis was aware that the others 
had stopped talking and were watching him. He put 
away the pamphlets. " Well? " Jerry asked. 

Hollis shrugged. *' I don't know. There are a lot 
of questions that aren't answered here." 

"Such as?" 

*' If the union is such a good thing, why is the com- 
pany against it? " 

*' Because," said Jerry, ** if we have a union, they 

'^ 104* 

won't be able to hire and fire us as they please, and for 
whatever reason they want to." 

" Hasn't the company that right? " 

" No it hasn't," said Gabby emphatically. 

" Why not? " asked HolHs. " Shouldn't a man be 
able to have some say about who works for him ? After 
all, it's his business." 

" In other words," said Harry, " you think Van- 
guard has the right to offer a job and certain pay with 
a take-it-or-leave-it attitude." 

" Sure," said Hollis. " They're not making anybody 
work there. If we don't like it, we can leave." 

"And starve?" 

" Well — " Hollis didn't quite know how to answer 

" Look, Hollis," said Jerry. " We're not trying to 
dictate to Vanguard. All we're trying to do is get some 
measure of protection for ourselves. Right now we 
want union recognition. Do you know what that 

Hollis shook his head. 

" It means we want Vanguard to agree to meet 
with our representatives to discuss questions concern- 
ing the men who work in the plant. All we want now is 
the opportunity to represent the men in bargaining with 
the company about such things as wages, hours, and 
working conditions." 

'' I don't see why you need a union for that," said 
Hollis. " When I worked for Pop Farnham we always 
managed to get along." 

^ 105^ 

'' You're not working for Pop now,*' said Jerry im- 
patiently. " You're not the only mechanic in the ga- 
rage. You're only one of a hundred thousand men. 
Don't you see ? Every one of us has the same problem. 
We can't go to the management one by one. They 
wouldn't even talk to us that way." 

" It comes down to this," said Harry. " Vanguard 
can do without Jerry or you or me, or anybody in the 
plant. They can get along without any one man that 
works there. But they can't get along without all of us. 
Sure they own the plant. But what good would all that 
machinery be if they didn't have men to run the ma- ' 
chines and make the cars. They need workers, Hollis. 
And because we are so necessary to them, we should 
have a little say about wages and conditions." 

Hollis had never thought about the matter in that 
way before. He had always seen the fact that working 
men needed employment, but he had never considered 
that employers also needed workers. Actually, as he 
saw It, the entire affair was really a partnership. The 
owners provided the money and materials, and the 
workers provided the necessary labor. Still, he wasn't 

" Wages are pretty good here," he said. *' In a way 
you fellows are one-sided about this. All you're inter- 
ested in seems to be high wages. How does that affect 
the farmer? He doesn't get any more for his crops, 
and he has to pay higher prices for his manufactured 

Harry smiled ruefully. ** You've heard all the ar- 
guments, haven't you?" he said, "You've been here 

one day. YouVe seen our work — youVe done it. 
YouVe getting the so-called * high wages.' Do you 
think you're going to get rich? " 

" Not very," said Hollls. '' To tell the truth, I won't 
be much ahead of what I was In Holden, where I made 
a lot less." 

" That's how It Is," said Jerry. " We make a little 
more, but our expenses are higher. And we don't work 
a full year. The auto worker's year Is usually between' 
six and eight months. We have to save enough to live 
on during that time. J^Igure out how much our yearly 
income amounts to, and our wages won't seem so big." 

" There are plenty of farmers who have three meals 
a day every day In the year," said Harry. " That's 
more than you can say for a lot of auto workers." 

** What does your union want, then? " Hollls asked. 

"An annual wage, for one big thing," Gabby said. 
*'The way It has been, we've always worked like mad 
for a few months out of the year, turning out most of 
the cars that are to be made. Then, when that's over, 
we're laid off until the next season, when the rush and 
speed-up starts all over again. We want Vanguard to 
figure out how many cars they're going to make In a 
year and spread production over the entire period. 
We'd rather get less and get It all year than make a lit- 
tle more per hour, but less In the course of a year." 

John Machok added: " It Isn't so bad for us single 
fellows. When the layoffs come, we go to Florida, or 
some other place where we can find odd jobs and sleep 
outside If we have to. But it's tough on the boys who 
have families to support." 

^ 107 * 

" What do they do ? " Hollls asked. 

" Go on relief." 

" If they can get it." 

** What it amounts to," said Jerry, *' is that Van- 
guard and the other companies work us as fast as we 
can work, so we can get all the cars out quickly. Then 
they tell us we are through, and it's none of their con- 
cern what happens to us until they need us again. In 
effect, they make the rest of the country support us un- 
til there is work again." 

" Even the slaves weren't so badly off," said Harry. 
" At least under slavery the owner saw that the slaves 
were fed and housed all year round, and he took some 
responsibility about their care and health. We don't 
even have that." 

" And when you are a little too old," said John, " out 
you go. No security, no job — no nothing. Nothing 
to show for the years you work." 

" Let me tell you," said Harry. " When the city 
worker is making a decent wage, the farmer is better 
off. We don't throw our money around foolishly. 
Most of what we make goes for food. It won't do the 
farmer much good to get cheap machinery if there isn't 
anybody to buy his product." 

Jerry pulled out his watch and looked at it. " It's 
time to start," he said, " Want to go along, HoUis? " 


" Union meeting." 

Hollis nodded. His curiosity was aroused by what 
he had heard. He saw good truth in the arguments 
that had been given him. It wasn't too much for a man 

to ask security. There wasn*t much else in life for a 
man who spent his life working. It was no more than 
fair, Hollis felt, that the men should have some pro- 

Thinking back again to the plant, he could see how 
little chance the individual had In dealing with a large 
company. His experience with the VSP, for instance. 
He had been completely at their mercy. There was no 
chance for him to plead his case or explain. It was all 
one-sided. All the power and right seemed to be on the 
company side. Maybe the only way for the workers to 
get a fair hearing was to band together and pool their 

Hollis was not totally unfamiliar with the history of 
the struggles between different economic groups. He 
knew from his own Iowa history how the farmers had 
banded togethei In the past to form the Grange, in or- 
der to protect themselves from the exploitation of ruth- 
less Eastern capitalists. 

Justice; Hollis knew, often had to be fought for. 
The history of the world was one of struggle for jus- 
tice. This was a part of it. He also realized that he 
was no longer Hollis MacEachron, a good mechanic 
who was respected by the community. He was just 
the man who ran the Number One speed wrench. If 
he disappeared, there would be another to take his 
place, and he wouldn't be missed. Production would 
go on. 

He knew, as he had known earlier in the day when 
he was just one among a thousand, that as an individual 
worker he had ceased to be important. He was im- 


portant only as a cog In the wheel, only as one among 
many. He, like the others, was important only as part 
of the mass. He saw what Harry had meant when he 
said, " They can do without any one of us, but they 
can't do without all of us." 

As HolHs walked with Jerry, he was eager to see the 
union in action. He was attracted by the thought of 
getting together with his fellows to improve their con- 
ditions. In a way, every man was working for himself 
and for all the others. It was real brotherhood. 

The aims, as far as Hollis could see, were fine. La- 
bor and capital ought to be in some kind of partnership. 
The fighting and bitterness didn't have any place. Es- 
pecially now, when the world was involved in a war to 
preserve the democratic way of life. Maybe, Hollis 
thought, he could help that democracy along if he got 
in where things were happening. He nudged Jerry. 
*' If you still have that blank," Hollis said, " I'll sign 
it as soon as we get to a light." 

A big grin spread over Jerry's features. " Good, 
Hollis. I knew you'd join." 

They walked through many quiet, deserted streets to 
get to the union hall. It was not a pretty part of town. 
Shabby houses gave way to mixed business and residen- 
tial blocks, where small stores occupied the ground floor 
and apartments were built above. 

In the warm summer night, they found people sitting 
on the outside steps, seeking a breath of cooling air. 

The union hall was on one of these streets — in a va- 
cant store with huge curtains over the windows. Jerry 
waited a moment in the shadows, looking around to 

^ IIO^ 

make sure the coast was clear. Then he led HoUIs 

The room was rough. There was no other furni- 
ture besides the rows of folding chairs and a table at 
the front where the chairman sat. On the walls were 
various posters urging men to join the GEIU. 

The room was half filled when Jerry arrived with 
Hollis. Two men at the table were going over a sheaf 
of papers. Others, in the folding chairs, sat and smoked 
silently, or talked. 

" Won't be many here tonight," said Jerry. 

*'Why not?" 

" Afraid, after what happened this morning." 

Hollis' heart skipped a beat. " Think there'll be any 

'' Probably not." 

Jerry led Hollis up to the table. One of the men was 
In working clothes. He was secretary of the local. The 
other man was wearing a conventional business suit. 
He was more polished. He greeted Hollis with a cer- 
tain amount of professional glibness. " This is Joe 
Latrim," said Jerry, " our organizer." 

Hollis was more impressed with the secretary. 

" Do you want to pay your initiation now, Brother 
MacEachron? " the secretary asked. 

"How much?" 

*' One dollar. Dues are a dollar a month." 

*' I'll pay now," said Hollis. He made a mental note 
to ask Jerry about that. He wanted to know more 
about dues — something he had always regarded as 
paying tribute to work. 

^ iii^ 

The meeting was scheduled to open at eight thirty. 
At nine they were ready. Before it started, Hollis re- 
ceived one more surprise, when the president of the lo- 
cal came in and took his place. The president was none 
other than Freddy Brown. 

At nine Freddy wrapped his gavel on the table. 
" Meeting will please come to order," he said. 

The hum of voices died down. 

" Will the secretary read the minutes of the last 
meeting? " 

The secretary did. It involved a routine account of 
members present, new recruits, dues standing, and 
questions that were discussed and actions taken. 

Then old business was in order. There was no old 
business. New business was in order. 

Hollis looked around to see who might have some 
new business and what that business might be. The men 
sat waiting just as he did. After a moment, Joe La- 
trim asked for the floor. The chairman gave him that 

Latrim stepped to the front of the table with the easy 
air of a practiced orator. Deliberately, as an attention 
getter, he took off his jacket and folded it over the back 
of a chair. Then he rolled up his sleeves. 

Hollis was reminded of the two VSP men who had 
been ready to beat him up earlier in the day. Like the 
VSP men, Latrim was big and burly. He had jet-black 
hair and shaggy eyebrows that he drew together in an 
ostentatious manner when he wanted to appear impor- 


Preliminaries over, Latrim addressed the gathered 
men In calculated tones. He was conscious of his pow- 
ers as an orator and made full use of them. 

He talked about the union men who had been at- 
tacked at the gates. 

" Labor will not forget this dayl " he thundered as 
though in a huge theater. " It will live in infamy, 
ranking among the darkest deeds of this age. 

" Our time will come, Brothers. We will use our 
power to strangle the colossus which now tramples us 
beneath its heavy heel. We will bring Vanguard to its 
knees and make it plead for mercy 1 " 

Latrim paused theatrically, pulling out a big hand- 
kerchief and wiping his face. A ripple of applause 
swept over the audience. It was not heavy. Latrim 
frowned and continued. 

Hollis felt a certain antagonism to Latrim that he 
could not understand. Neither could he shake off the 
feeling that Latrim could easily have been a VSP man. 
Certainly he did not fit into the picture with the union 
men who had taken the beating. 

The oratory flowed over Hollis' head. He began 
looking around to see how the others were taking it. 
Some were reading papers that were In their laps. Oth- 
ers looked ahead, expressionless. A few looked bored. 
Freddy, who sat behind Latrim, was making a polite 
effort to appear Interested, but doodled with a pencil 
on a pad that was before him. 

Latrim was still going strong, trying to whip up the 
smoldering hatred that the men already felt for the 

^ 113^ 

plant. He went into gory detail about the beating that 
had taken place, and grew maudlin about '' labor's 
brave heroes who have bared their breasts to the swords 
of the hired company assassins." 

That was silly, Hollis felt. Latrim hadn't been 
there. There was no sense in trying to make things 
look worse than they were. The cold facts were bad 
enough. Much worse, in fact, than Latrim's hammy 

Hollis felt like jumping up and telling Latrim to be 
quiet. Either that or say something constructive. But 
the man ran his vocabulary into the ground, repeated 
himself over and over, and finally sat down after mak- 
ing new threats against Vanguard. 

Latrim sat in his chair, puffing importantly. Freddy 
looked around. *' We have all heard Brother Latrim," 
he said. " Is there any discussion? " 

Hollis expected a discussion. He waited for some- 
one to get up and bring up some of the important ques- 
tions that Jerry told him the union was concerned with 
— better conditions, annual wages. He looked around 
to see who would take the floor. 

No one did. The men sat around apathetically. 
They had nothing to say. 

Hollis hesitated about getting up. He was new — 
but he was a member. He did have the right to speak 
his mind. After all, this was an organization of and 
for the men in the factory. He put up his hand. Jerry 
looked at him quizzically. 

Freddy recognized him. *' Brother MacEachron 
has the floor," he said. 


Hollis stood up. He was shaking. A nervousness 
that tied up his tongue tightened its hold on him. He 
swallowed, searching for words. Latrim was watch- 
ing him closely. 

" Brother Chairman," said Hollis, using the form of 
address that seemed to be the rule. " I'm new here, 
and I don't like to take on more than I ought to. But 
I'd like to say a few words." 

" The floor is yours, Brother," said Freddy. 

" I joined this union," said Hollis, " because I was 
told that it was the only way I could get a fair deal in 
the plant. I was told that the union was trying to get 
better conditions for all of us. That sounded good to 

" Then I came here tonight and I can't see. Brother 
Chairman, just how the union is going to do it." 

Latrim jumped to his feet. ** What are you trying 
to do? " he shouted. *' Break up this meeting? " 

Freddy pounded with his gavel. " Order, order." 

*' I'm not trying to break up anything," said Hollis. 
" But I can't see what good it's going to do to call the 
company names and talk about revenge. I don't see 
how that's going to help us any. If all the union is for 
is to carry on war with the VSP, I'd like my dollar 

Hollis sat down. The men were alert now, whisper- 
ing and looking at him. Latrim got the floor again and 
started a bitter attack against Hollis. 

*' What does the new member want us to do ? Crawl 
on our bellies to the company and ask to be patted on 
the head? Fight fire with fire I We're as tough as the 

VSP, and maybe tougher. If they want to start rough 
stuff, we can show them a few things about It. If the 
new Brother is afraid, let him go back to his mother 
and hide behind her skirts." 

Hollis was on his feet again. The meeting was turn- 
ing into a duel between him and Latrim. Hollis real- 
ized that Latrim had the advantage of being known, 
and of being in power. But that didn't stop him. The 
lanky country boy with the rugged face wasn't one to 
be shouted down when he thought he had some of the 
right on his side. 

When Hollis stood up someone in the back of the 
room shouted a motion for adjournment of the meeting. 
Cries of " Steam roller I " echoed it angrily. Freddy 
hammered with his gavel. " Brother MacEachron has 
the floor I " 

Hollis faced his audience, seeing their faces as a 
blur. But he spoke calmly, and to the point. 

" I joined the union to work for the good things It 
had to offer," he said. " I'm willing to go a long way 
to work for them. But I'm not ready to start an un- 
official war with Vanguard." 

Hollis lost all his nervousness. His feelings were 
too strong now to allow any stage fright. 

" Right now," he said, " Americans are giving their 
lives to defend this country. They're not just fighting 
and dying for me, or you, or any person or company. 
They're doing It for all of us. 

" We're back here turning out the machines they 
need. We've got to give them all the help they need. 
I don't say we should give up our attempts to get a bet- 

ter deal from Vanguard. That's one of the things 
they're fighting for. But the boys aren't fighting for 
our right to beat up Vanguard people, or their right to 
beat us up." 

" But they're doing it," someone shouted. 

" And they are wrong," answered Hollis. " That 
doesn't mean we have to be wrong too. If I was Hitler, 
nothing would make me happier than to see the union 
and the VSP going at each other with hammer and 
tongs. As long as we're fighting each other, we can't 
fight him. 

'' My Idea," said Hollis, " is that we ought to cam- 
paign for peace with Vanguard, and not for war. The 
people are going to get mad if we keep having dog- 
fights, and the first thing we know the Government will 
have to step in and make us do what we ought to have 
the sense to do by ourselves. I suggest we make our 
program known all over the country. If It's a good one, 
it will be good for everybody and not just for us. The 
company won't be able to fight our ideas with VSP men. 
They'll have to meet with us, or give a pretty good rea- 
son why they shouldn't." 

When Hollis sat down, he got a chorus of approval, 
mingled with only a few catcalls. 

*' You're a regular Daniel Webster," whispered 

Hollis grinned. '* I like the kind of union you talked 
about," he said, " but not the kind Latrim has to offer." 

Other speakers, spurred on by Hollis, took the floor 
in his support. They too pointed out that the only way 
the union could get the recognition it deserved was to 

^ 117^ 

show that it deserved respect. Violence should be 
avoided at all costs, they argued, and the union program 
shouted from the housetops. 

The argument went back and forth as men arose to 
take sides. Hollis, inexperienced but observing, began 
to see where the lines were drawn. He saw who were 
in the faction that supported Latrim without reserva- 
tion, and he also saw those who saw eye to eye with 

Finally the meeting broke up. A crowd of men 
surged around Hollis, congratulating him on the way 
he had spoken up. 

Hollis, flushed by such a strange situation as he was 
now in, felt the inward sweep of exultation that all men 
feel when they find within themselves latent powers of 
leadership. He determined to study more about union- 
ism. He was convinced that it could do good, if given 
the right direction. He was hungry for a new kind of 

As he was leaving, Hollis looked back at the plat- 
form. Latrim, sullen and shaggy, sat in his chair, 
chewing on a cigar, his eyes boring at HolHs. 

Hollis met those black, burning eyes and looked them 
down. But, as he left, Hollis had the premonition that 
he was going to have trouble with Latrim before he 
was through. 



^7 i^ 

suddenly started to laugh. 

*' What's funny? " Hollls asked. He was still tin- 
gling from his new experiences in the union meeting. 
His head had been full of plans and ideas as he walked 

"You," said Jerry. 

** Do you think I made a fool of myself? " 

" Oh, no," Jerry said seriously. " Not at all. You 
did a fine job. But you certainly didn't lose any time. 
A few hours ago you didn't know a union from a tea 
party, and now you're becoming the spokesman for the 
rank and file." 

HolHs whistled. ** I didn't know there was anything 
military connected with the union." 

Jerry stared, then made a face. He hated to bring up 
inner union politics, but as Hollis was already out on a 
limb, he might as well know how much weight it would 

Jerry started explaining in a circuitous way: " * Rank 
and file ' is what we call the ordinary members. But I 
want to warn you you'd better be careful about crossing 
blades with Latrim." 

Hollls waited for the explanation. '' He's a tough 
customer,'' Jerry continued. "An old union man, but 
he's got some funny notions." 

*' How does he fit In? " asked Hollis. 

" He's hired by the organizing committee," Jerry 
went on. " You see, Hollls, we need men who can give 
their full time to union problems — men who are paid 
by the union to lead organization drives, guide the 
union, and do the things that the rest of us aren't able 
to, or haven't the time for." 

" Did Latrim work at Vanguard? " 

" No. He's been In the labor movement a long time, 
from what I hear. Been a professional organizer for a 
number of years. He knows union organization from 
top to bottom. That's why he was hired." 

" Frankly," said Hollls, '* I wasn't much Impressed 
with him. He reminded me of the VSP." 

Hollls wondered what Jerry's reaction would be to 
this criticism of a union leader. Jerry was silent for a 
long time. 

" I'm not much impressed either," said Jerry. " But 
he's the best we can get now, until we develop our own 
leadership from among the workers In the plant. La- 
trim's one of the old-timers. He's come through a lot 
of bloody battles, and as far as he is concerned it's war 
between the unions and the companies." 

" Has it always been like this? " Hollls asked fur- 
ther. " Fights, hatred — all of the bad things I've seen 
so far?" 

" Pretty much like that." 

" Then it ought to be changed," said Hollls. " I 

ir 120^ 

don't know how labor and capital got off on the wrong 
foot, but I don't see any use in standing on it like an 
iron stork." 

" Sure it ought to be changed," said Jerry. " But 
how? You can't argue with the VSP." 

'* Go above them," said Hollis. " After all, people 
who were smart enough to start a business like Van- 
guard ought to be smart enough to handle their labor 
problems with some sense. We've got to get to those 

" They won't listen," said Jerry glumly. " The own- 
ers are convinced that the union is out to wreck their 
business, that we're a bunch of irresponsible hoodlums. 
They refuse to meet with us as equals." 

" I still think," said Hollis, " that if we had the right 
approach, we could show them we were responsible. 
But we never will as long as people like Latrim are in 
charge, talking about revenge, and fighting. That only 
makes matters worse." 

" Try your best," said Jerry. " I agree with you, and 
so do a lot of others. But keep an eye on Latrim. If 
he thinks you're trying to take away his power, you're 
apt to find the goon squad camping at your door." 

'* What's the goon squad? " 

** The VSP with a union label," said Jerry. " What 
it amounts to is a picked group of our own toughies who 
do the rough work on company men and union men 
who don't toe the line." 

" Do the union leaders approve of that? " 

Jerry shook his head. " You saw the boys who were 
attacked this morning. They don't believe in goon 

^ 121 ^ 

squads. But goons are unofficial. In order to get rid 
of them you have to get rid of the old-line bullies like 
Latrim, who use them." 

** Then what it amounts to," figured HoUis, " is that 
weVe got a double fight on our hands. One is to clear 
the union of fellows like Latrim who are behind the 
times, and the other is to show some of these big com- 
panies that they and their special poHce are just as old- 

" Right," said Jerry. " That's just what Roy Wal- 
ters is trying to do." 

"Who's Roy Walters?" 

Jerry stared again. *' Don't you even know the 
President of the GEIU? " he asked, astonished. 

" Never heard of him." 

" He's our top leader," said Jerry. " He was one of 
the three at the gate this morning. Roy used to be in 
the Vanguard plant, but he studied a lot and became 
one of the first organizers in the auto industry. When 
the union grew, he was elected president at the first 
convention and has been re-elected twice." 

** You mentioned his plan — " 

" It's called the Walters Plan. What it amounts to 
is a kind of joint operation of the factories for the ben- 
efit of the country. Walters points out that the work- 
ers in the different departments know a lot about how 
much they can turn out and what improvements can be 
made. His idea is to have labor represented when pro- 
duction plans are made, and for labor to co-operate 
with the management in order to get the maximum 
amount of production. 

^ 122^ 

" Of course part of the plans deal with the welfare 
of the men, and with our working conditions. But if 
production can be planned more efficiently, and our work 
is steadier. It will be better all the way around. It 
doesn't do anyone any good when a couple of hundred 
thousand auto workers are out of work at a time when 
the country needs every truck and tank that we can 
turn out. Better planning would eliminate that." 

" This Walters seems to have some good ideas," said 

" You bet," said Jerry. " He had a plan all worked 
out to make the conversion from peacetime production 
to wartime production much easier. He even showed 
how the companies could save time and money, using 
existing machinery in many cases. He wanted the plan 
to be used long ago, before the war." 

" What happened to the plan? " 

Jerry snorted. " What you might expect. The big 
shots who own the industry wouldn't listen to him. 
They made a lot of statements about how he was try- 
ing to run their business, and how much more they 
knew about it than he did." 

^' Fell through, eh?" 

*' So far. And look what's happened. The compa- 
nies — Vanguard included — went along on a business- 
as-usual basis. Now that the war is here, we have to 
stop in the middle of things and make changes that 
should have been made long ago. Factories will be 
idle, men out of work, and materials will be held up — 
all because they thought they knew it all." 

Jerry's words made Hollls angry deep inside, angry 

i5r 123 <f 

at the people who wouldn't listen. " I always figured 
a man had a right to run his business the way he saw 
fit," said Hollis, " but I'm beginning to see differently. 
When the fate of the country might depend on produc- 
tion, I don't see how you can allow a man to do as he 
pleases. It's bigger than how he feels or how anyone 

Jerry grinned a little. " Better be careful, Hollis," 
he said jestingly. " The next thing you know you'll be 
called a Socialist, or a Red." 

" I'm tired of name-calling," said Hollis. " That 
won't do anything but get us hoarse. I want you to do 
a lot of explaining to me, Jerry. I'm getting into this 
union business with both feet." 

When they reached home, Jerry helped Hollis to 
move his stuff into the room they were to share. Hol- 
lis showed Jerry his tools, handling them gently. " It 
took me years to collect these," he said, half to himself. 
" I picked every one special." HolHs dug up a rag and 
wiped the tools, although they shone with cleanliness. 

Jerry sat on the bed watching Hollis fuss tenderly 
with the box of tools. 

"You shouldn't have come to Motor City," Jerry 
said suddenly. 

Hollis looked up, surprised. 

" You don't belong here," said Jerry, moodily punch- 
ing a pillow. 

" I'm doing all right," Hollis defended himself. " I 
think I've got that job of mine by the tail." 

" It's not that, Hollis. It's just — well — you ought 

^ 124^ 

to be someplace where you could use those tools of 


'' Truth IS," said Hollis, regretfully closing the box 
and pushing it under the bed, *' I don't intend to stay 
around all my life. I figured Fd work in Motor City 
long enough to get some money ahead and then go to 
school. Someday I'd like to be an automotive en- 

" Nobody wants to stay here," said Jerry with sud- 
den emphasis. " You want to study. That's your 
chicken farm, but you'll never get it. Nobody ever 

" What chicken farm are you talking about? " asked 
Hollis. "You're not talking in your sleep, are you? 
School, chicken farm — " 

Jerry got off the bed and paced up and down the 
room. " Your school," he said again, *' that's your 
chicken farm. All of us have our chicken farms. Mine 
used to be to go to college and study medicine." Jerry 
spoke jerkily. " Most of the men try to save enough 
so they can retire when they get too old to work on the 
assembly line. Retire and raise chickens out in the 
country. Nine out of ten have that idea, and most of 
them already have the farm picked out. 

" They never do it. Save a little money and the 
plant closes down. You sit around and eat up your 
money. Never have enough to buy the farm. That 
goes on for years. Take my case. I came here three 
years ago, figuring the same as you. I did get a little 
ahead, but then I was laid off. Didn't have enough for 


college, so I had to stay and hope I could work long 
enough the next year. Used up all my money before I 
got a job. That happens every year. It'll happen to 

" Maybe," said Hollls. " Of course, now that we 
are in the war, we may all be in the Army." 

" WeVe more valuable here," said Jerry. " They 
wouldn't take us even if we asked to go." 

A locomotive pulling a long Hne of trucks and cars 
pulled out of the Vanguard plant, blowing for the right 
of way. 

" There go some of my differentials," said Hollls. 

*' There goes part of you," said Jerry. " Let's turn 
in, Hollis. I'm whiffed." 

Tired as he was, Hollis remained awake for a long 
time. He realized that he had not thought of Pop for 
a long time. Thinking of him now, Holden and the ga- 
rage seemed millions of miles away. It seemed to Hol- 
lis that he had been in Motor City all his life, tighten- 
ing nuts with a speed wrench. His thoughts slid back 
from Holden to Motor City. As though on a giant 
screen, he saw his work, and the factory, and the men 
who had been attacked in the morning. His thoughts 
moved on to the union. 

Hollis smiled in the darkness. He wondered what 
Pop would say if he knew Hollis was a union member. 
Hollis was glad he had joined the union, even if 
there were some things about it he did not understand 
or like. 

In a way it was like the factory. The men came and 
sat, attending as they should, but taking no active part. 

The few union leaders were like the straw bosses and 
superintendents who ran the local show and made the 
local decisions. And far away, like the owners of the 
company, were the big union leaders. In each the in- 
dividual was a cog, Insignificant by himself and Impor- 
tant only as a part of something large and impersonal. 

Outwardly, Hollls was just another man on the as- 
sembly line. A little newer than the others, a little 
rawer, perhaps, but still just another pair of hands, 
functioning to the dictates of the machine that paced his 

But inwardly he was still the boy with the toolbox, 
who had come to Motor City to build cars with his 
hands and brain. 

For a brief moment HoUis saw himself in a dream- 
like mind picture. He saw a bewildered, strong-mus- 
cled youth walking slowly along with a toolbox clutched 
in his hand. And as he walked, two great impersonal 
boulders — the union and the company — rolled to- 
gether, crushing him between them as they clashed. 

Hollls was at his machine in the morning, waiting for 
the power to be turned on. Freddy stood beside him. 
Hollls nodded a greeting, which Freddy returned. 
Freddy motioned for Hollls not to mention anything 
about the events of the past night, and Hollls nodded 
that he understood. Then the power came on with a 
steady hum, and the line began to roll. 

Immediately Hollls knew that something was 
changed. He was working well, but he wasn't keeping 
up. He flashed a glance at Freddy. Freddy was bit- 

ing his lower lip, working viciously. He caught Hollis' 
eye and answered the question that showed. 

" Speed-up," said Freddy. 

Speed-up. Hollls had heard it mentioned, now he 
was a part of it. Speed-up. The men were working 
smoothly at the rate of seventy units an hour. But sev- 
enty wasn't enough. The schedule was heavy. The de- 
mand was loud: More trucks. More light reconnais- 
sance cars. More jeeps. More everything. Fast. 

They adjusted the motor that ran the conveyer belt. 
It hummed a little shriller as it picked up speed. 
Seventy wasn't enough. Seventy-five wasn't enough. 
Eighty was getting close. Eighty-five was touching the 
limits. It went to eighty-five. 

The starters fumbled and sweated. Down went their 
hands to grasp the six nuts they needed. Place, spin, 
place, spin, place, spin. 

The speed wrenches sang constantly. Their snarl- 
ing was never still. Hollls stepped up his production. 
There was no argument, no consultation. The machine 
was set at eighty-five, and the men had to work that 
fast. If the machine was slowed, the men worked 
slower. Yes, Master Machine, whatever you say I 

Hollls worked too fast to talk, but he could still 
think. He thought of something that had never once 
entered his mind when he had been working for Pop — 
the fairness of his salary. 

One thing was obvious to Hollls. The moment the 
machine speeded him up from seventy units an hour to 
eighty-five, his wages had been cut. 

Under the old standard the company had been turn- 
ing out seventy units an hour, and he had been paid 
fifty-seven cents. Now he was getting fifty-seven cents 
for turning out eighty-five units. 

When the cars were finished, if they were finished at 
the same rate, it meant that fifteen out of every eighty- 
five cars didn't cost the company a cent for labor. Yet 
the price would be the same to the buyer. 

It also meant that the quota of cars would be fin- 
ished sooner, and he would be out of work quicker than 
if they had kept the old standard. It was a vicious cir- 
cle. The faster you worked, the quicker you were out 
of a job, the more cars you turned out, and the more 
the company made. 

Maybe, thought Hollis, if the line moved smoothly 
at eighty-five units, eighty-five and not seventy would be 
the norm. Then the speed-up would start creeping to- 
ward ninety, and even above. 

HoUis knew that cars were needed. He was glad to 
help to turn them out. But it didn't seem fair that 
when it was over the company had more money while 
the men had neither money nor jobs. 

As he saw it, some kind of annual wage arrange- 
ment was the only protection. Hollis tried to figure 
how that might work. 

The first thing he would do, he thought, would be to 
figure out a fair normal rate of production — say sixty- 
five or seventy units an hour. That would keep a man 
moving, but it wouldn't leave him feeling ready to fly 
apart at the end of the day. 

^ 129^ 

The company could figure its labor cost at the rate 
of men turning out seventy units. Then, if it became 
necessary, as in this war crisis, for the men to speed up 
their output, they would be given credit for the extra 
units and paid for them in proportion to their regular 

That wouldn't be unfair, Hollis figured. If the com- 
pany could make money by hiring men to work at a sev- 
enty speed, it ought to give them more when they hit 
eighty-five. That was only paying a man for his work. 

Hollis told Jerry about his ideas when they were walk- 
ing home from work. 

" The only trouble is," said Jerry, *' we're not being 
paid for our work." 

Hollis snorted. " No ? Then what are we being 
paid for?" 

*' Our time," said Jerry. " We're paid so much an 
hour for spending eight hours a day in the factory. 
That time belongs to the company. You can see for 
yourself that it doesn't make any difference how much 
work we do as far as pay is concerned. If we were 
actually paid for the work we put in, it would be 

*' Like renting a thresher, isn't it?" said Hollis. 
" A farmer pays so much a day for use of the machine. 
How much use he gets out of it depends on him." 

" That's getting close to it," said Jerry. 

Hollis felt more than ever that he was ceasing to 
be a man. He was fighting with all his might the great 
drag of forces that were turning him into a living ma- 

^ 130^ 

chine, but he felt that he was losing the battle. He was 
slowly sinking beneath the surface, and each new dis- 
covery was pulling at his legs. 

But as the weeks passed, Hollls went to his work 
regularly. He worked on his differentials, not know- 
ing what happened to them after they left him. 

The speed-up on the assembly line also speeded up 
union activity. Men who had gone through speed-ups 
before without bothering with the union, now con- 
sidered Its program. The faster the wheels turned, 
the nearer they saw themselves to unemployment. 
Added to that, union victories in the steel plants gave 
them new hope. 

The union chose this time to ask the Government for 
an election at the Vanguard plant to determine 
whether or not It could be the bargaining agent. 

While the Government waited with Its answer, Hol- 
lls worked tirelessly alongside Jerry and Gabby to 
swing men to their side. Differences with Latrim were 
forgotten as all factions united to swing the big elec- 
tion. Once the union won its right to bargain with 
Vanguard, the factions would be fighting their inner 
struggle for power. Now it was all for the GEIU 
against Vanguard. 

Jerry was the first one in the house to find out the 
news. His face was white. " WeVe got an election 
coming up In a week,'' he announced at dinner. He 
was too nervous to eat. 

After dinner, for the hundredth time, the men sat 
around and tried to figure their strength. " V^e've got 

ir 131 ^ 

a thousand men here, out of twelve hundred. WeVe 
weak here in the night shift. Don't know about body 
assembly — they've got a lot of new men — " 

They covered sheets of paper with wild figures and 

Up until the very day of the election, no worker 
dared wear his union button openly at the plant. The 
VSP prowled around like uneasy mastiffs, sniffing a new 
wind that bore them no good. Among the workers 
there was the tenseness of hope and fear. 

And then the election came. The time of leaflet- 
passing and arguments was over. Hollis was weary 
and red-eyed from lack of sleep. He had spent all his 
evenings calling on fellow workers to urge them to 
vote for the GEIU. It had been done at night, safe 
from the inquisitive eyes of scouting VSP men. 

The long lines of men that stood waiting their turn 
were silent. One by one, the men stepped up to take 
their ballots, step behind the curtain, mark them, and 
leave. Union and company watchers watched each 
other like hawks, while policemen patrolled the area, 
anticipating trouble. 

Hollis voted at the end of his shift. He marked a 
big X in the box opposite the GEIU line and dropped 
his vote in the container. 

As Hollis stepped outside, he saw a VSP man watch- 
ing him. Acting on impulse, Hollis reached in his 
pocket and pulled out his union button. Slowly, de- 
ifiantly, he pinned his button to his overalls, and walked 

His act of confidence inspired others. Union but- 

tons popped up on all sides as men forgot their fears. 
The very act of voting gave them faith and confi- 
dence in their country and Government. It was still 
a sign that men had a voice in their own destiny. The 
open defiance of the VSP was the act of free men, un- 

But as HoUis walked home, there was still a funny 
feeling in the pit of his stomach. If the union lost, he 
was a marked man. But even that thought couldn't 
frighten him. He had been pushed down about as far 
as he could go. Hollis had reached his limit. He was 
going to fight back, against anybody and everybody 
who tried to intimidate him, regardless of whether it 
was Vanguard or Latrim. 

HoUis worked all next day without knowing the an- 
swer. It was only when he left the plant that he knew. 
The thousands who were coming on for the next shift 
were coming joyously — and every man wore a union 
button prominently displayed on his shirt. 

The results were known, and the union was busy. 
They had put up temporary quarters near the plant 
and were besieged with men wanting applications. It 
was as though a heavy weight had been lifted. Men 
who had been silent and without hope had new light in 
their eyes. There was hope, not for everything to be 
perfect, but for a chance to be heard, — a chance to 
speak to the company as equal men, without fear of 
being fired or beaten up for speaking out. 

Hollis took the actual news calmly. 

Jerry was jumping into the air with happiness. 
" What a victory I " he shouted. 

^ 133 ^ 

Hollls thought of Latrlm. "And what a responsi- 
bility," he added soberly. 

That night Mrs. Billings had a special dinner for 
them. It was as festive as a banquet. Afterward 
they all went out to join a union torchlight victory 

The mute workers of Motor City had come to life. 
Men who went to work silently and returned home 
silently suddenly woke as from a deep sleep. Voices 
that had only been raised in anger now shouted union 
victory songs. All along the caravan of slow-moving 
cars the words were chanted — old union songs that 
were new to Motor City. 

" Solidarity forever ... in un-ion we are strong," 
and all the others. 

Hollis jumped on the running board of one of the 
cars. Everyone seemed to be wearing a union button. 
He saw men who worked in the same shop with him, 
and with whom he had never exchanged a word. Now 
they shouted to him, slapped him on the back, and 
called him " Brother." 

Hollis felt the exhilarating sweep of the mass. He 
was caught up in its mass singing, its mass joy. The 
torches whirled in the night. It was unreal, but power- 
ful. It was as though all the world wore union buttons 
and marched or drove in the parade. 

Hollis was aware that he was shouting — singing 
— joining the irresistible pull of the mass. His own 
voice was lost among the thousands, but he shouted 
anyway, until he was hoarse. He had never seen any- 


thing like it. He was overwhelmed, drowned, and 
completely merged in the surge of the crowd. 

It lasted for hours. Suddenly, as always happens, 
the torches seemed to go out, and the blackness of the 
night moved in. Mass joy gave way to mass weari- 
ness — it seemed to come to everyone at once. 

The sidewalks reflected the heat of the day. Paper, 
streamers, leaflets, all Httered the streets. A heavy, 
tired quietness set in, louder than the sound had been. 

Here and there a last defiant yell of triumph 
sounded in the night, faraway and weakly shrill. 

Hollis walked home, footsore and weary. Depres- 
sion and sadness set in quickly on the heels of his un- 
thinking joy. All the problems that had seemed solved 
now moved back in to sit in his brain. 

There was yet so much to be done — 

Hollis bought a paper from a newsboy and looked 
at the headlines. War, violence, oppression — He 
folded the newspaper and walked home. 

Striding down the sidewalks, moving easily across 
streets still filled with cars, finding his way by habit, and 
no longer looking in store windows and gaping at the 
prices, Hollis went home. 

He went with the long country stride of the past. 
But the tan of his face and arms was gone before the 
summer, and the pallor of indoor work had begun to 
mark him unmistakably as from the assembly line and 
not the farm. 



living room. His step quickened. Jerry was probably 
there. He hadn't seen Jerry all night and regretted 
that they hadn't been able to celebrate their triumph 

But when HoUis went into the house, he found only 
Mrs. Billings. She was sitting in a chair by the lamp, 
asleep, with an open book in her lap. The noise HoUis 
made coming in awakened her. 

" You're up late, Mrs. Billings," said Hollis. " It's 
a good bit past midnight." 

" Well, it's Saturday night," she said. " Everybody 
else was up and out, so I thought I'd keep up with the 
times and sit up awhile myself." 

*' Is Jerry home yet? " 

" No. By the way, Hollis, you had a visitor to- 

"A visitor — to see me?" Hollis scratched his 
head, trying to think who in Motor City knew him well 
enough to pay him a call. 

Mrs. Billings fumbled in the pocket of her apron. 

" He gave me his name/* she said. *' Fve got It on a 
card. Short, fat man, always rubbing his head with a 

HoUIs grinned. " That sounds like Pop Farnham. 
He was from Holden, wasn't he? " 

Mrs. Billings found the card and squinted at it. 
" That's right, HoUIs. I've a poor memory for names, 
but I should have known." 

"Where Is Pop? Here?" 

" I asked him to stay, but he'd already gotten a room 
at the hotel. Said he'd like to see you in the morning." 

HoUIs went to the phone. " What hotel Is he at? " 

" The Plendom." 

HoUIs knew the place — an average hotel with good 
rates. Pop would be all right there. Despite the fact 
that it was almost one In the morning, HoUIs dialed the 
hotel. He waited impatiently whUe Pop's phone rang. 
Finally the receiver at the other end was lifted and he 
heard Pop's sleepy voice. 

*' HeUo, Pop," HoUIs shouted. " HoUIs." 

"You owl," said Pop. "Where you been? You 
didn't used to stay up all night." 

HoUIs laughed. " I was at the parade," he said. 

" What parade was It ? It's kept me awake half the 

HoUIs was about to answer when he realized that he 
couldn't tell Pop it was the union parade — not tell him 
so suddenly. Pop wouldn't understand. It would have 
to come slowly, after they had seen each other. 

" I'll tell you aU about it when I see you," said HoUIs. 


" Why don't you come over for Sunday dinner, and then 
we can spend the afternoon together.'* 

Pop yawned loudly. " That's swell, Hollis. Are 
you sure it will be all right with your landlady? I 
wouldn't want to put her to no extra trouble." 

'* Mrs. Billings," called Hollis, " will you have room 
for Pop at Sunday dinner tomorrow? " 

" Always room for one more," she said. " Just tell 
him to be on time." 

" If it's a meal, you don't have to worry about Pop 
being on time," Hollis grinned. 

" What's that? " Pop's voice came thinly over the 
phone. "What did you say? " 

*' I said go back to sleep," said Hollis. " And be 
here at twelve noon on the minute." 

''All right. Good night, Hollis." 

" Good night. Pop." 

Hollis hung up and stood by the phone for a moment, 

"Does he know you belong to the union?" asked 
Mrs. Billings, reading Hollis' mind. 

Hollis shook his head. " He'll understand though," 
said Hollis thoughtfully. " Pop always understands." 

Next morning, when Hollis returned home from 
church. Pop was filling the big easy chair with his un- 
easy bulk. He was scrubbed and shining, but obviously 
uncomfortable in his strange surroundings. His white 
shirt was a little too small for him and, aided by his 
tie, was doing a good job of half-choking him every 
time he raised his head. His face was beet red. His 


inevitable bandanna was clutched in his right hand, and 
every few moments he wiped his brow, sighing. 

The rest of the men in the house were also at home, 
silently reading their newspapers. The habit of not dis- 
cussing union or shop affairs before strangers still per- 
sisted, although Pop had been identified as a friend of 

Pop jumped up when he saw Hollis, a wide smile 
speeding to each corner of his mouth. He stalked across 
the floor to the door, his hand held out in greeting. 

Hollis shook hands with him, squeezing Pop's pudgy 
hand affectionately. 

" Met the boys yet. Pop? " 

Pop shook his head. *' Not formal-like." 

HoUis introduced him to the others. " Pop's the 
fellow I told you about that I used to work for in 
Holden," said Hollis proudly. 

Pop turned redder than ever. He turned attention 
away from himself by talking about Hollis. " I bet 
you're showing this town we grow real mechanics back 
in Iowa," said Pop. " How soon you gonna own the fac- 
tory? " He winked broadly at the others, who smiled 
at his jest. They were a little embarrassed, because they 
knew from what Hollis had told them that Pop had a 
hunch that Hollis was going to take Vanguard by the 
tail and show it how to make cars. 

Hollis knew that the boys were anxious to talk about 
the union but hesitated to do so in front of Pop. In 
order to give them the cue that he wouldn't be around 
long, Hollis announced casually that he was taking 
Pop on a little tour of the plant in the afternoon. The 

^ 140^ 

others were relieved. Their discussion could safely 

After dinner Hollis put on his jacket before going 
out with Pop. They walked in the warm sunshine, not 
talking. Pop kept looking at Hollis' coat every few 
moments. Finally he cleared his throat and asked, 
" What's that button you're wearing, Hollis?" 

Hollis looked down. The time had come. 
" That? " he said lightly. " That's my union button.'* 

Pop blinked. " I thought I heard you say union 
button," said Pop, smiling gently. 

" That's right. Pop," said Hollis. '* I'm a dues- 
paying member in good standing. Belong to Local S3 
of the GEIU, which stands for Gas Engine Inter- 
national Union." 

"Are you a Red? " Pop asked suddenly. " Are you 
really a Red, Hollis?" 

Hollis stared at Pop and burst out laughing. 

" It ain't a joke," said Pop sadly. " I never thought 
you'd turn out to be against the Government and Ameri- 

can institutions." 

Hollis led Pop to a bench that was along the walk of 
the park they were in. It faced the towering, grim 
chimney giants across the street. 

''The union isn't Red," Hollis explained seriously. 
'* People have the wrong idea about us, Pop." 

Pop wiped his forehead. " I know you wouldn't do 
anything wrong, Hollis. But how about them other 
fellers in the union? Always striking and making 
trouble. I don't like to see you get mixed up with 


" Sometimes a strike is necessary," Hollis said 
slowly. " You know, Pop, from what I've studied, it 
seems to me that workers strike when they haven't got 
any other way out. If the companies would only talk 
with the men, the men wouldn't strike. But if the man- 
agement won't hear your side, and you don't get a 
chance to talk, it all boils up inside and you strike, be- 
cause that's the only thing left to do." 

" Red talk," grunted Pop. 

" I'm not a Red," Hollis said. " To tell the truth, 
I don't even think I've ever seen one. It's just a word 
to me. Pop. A word that's kicked around too much. 
I'll bet you can't even tell me what a Red is." 

Pop snorted. " Everybody knows that. He's against 
religion, government, morals, private property, and 
wants to take everything you've got away from you and 
share It with somebody that — that — " 

" Whoa, Pop," said Hollis laughing. " You'll never 
get your wind back." He faced Pop seriously. " Are 
you trying to say all those things about me ? " 

Pop wouldn't answer. He had been hurt deeply. 

*'Look here. Pop," said Hollis firmly. '* What 
church did you attend this morning? " 

Pop was startled. " Church ? Why — I — that is, 
Hollis, I was up so late last night that I must have over- 

" I was up late too, Pop. But I went. I'm surprised 
at you. Pop, going overboard like that. You saw the 
fellows who belong to the union. Fellows like Jerry 
and Gabby and Harry. They didn't have any horns, 
did they?" 

^ 142^ 

*' No. But Hollls, all this I've been reading in the 
papers about unions making trouble. It's unpatriotic. 
Everybody ought to pitch in at a time like this." 

*' Right, Pop. But everybody means the owners as 
well as the workers. I've seen it from the inside. It 
isn't pretty. Men wondering how long they'll work. 
Never knowing when they'll be tossed out without a 
job, and never making enough to save any money to 
tide them over bad periods. Something has to be done, 
Pop, and every man can't act for himself. Every man 
in the factory shares the same troubles with every other 
man, and it stands to reason they should get together." 

" You didn't need a union when you worked for me," 
said Pop. 

Hollis smiled grimly. *' You didn't have any hired 
thugs around to beat me up if I opened my mouth," he 
said. " And there was one of me and one of you. But 
here, where there are thousands of me and only one of 
you, it's different." 

Pop sighed. " Let's not talk about it any more. I'm 
more interested in you. How are you, anyway? Are 
you saving any money? Are you going to go to school? 
Tell me about you." 

Hollis looked at his hands. Hands that could work 
mechanical miracles when given the chance. Hands 
that longed for a chance to work at real problems, with 
good tools. Hands that moved in a small orbit 
day after day, week after week, hundreds of times a 

" I'm on the speed wrench," said Hollis. He ex- 
plained to Pop how it worked. " That's what I do 

^ 143 ^ 

everyday. All day long. That'swhat I'll be doing next 
year if I'm lucky enough to keep my job, and the year 
after that. I haven't any more money now than when I 
came. I get paid more, but things are higher here. 
And from what I hear, just about the time I do get a 
little ahead, I'll be laid off while new machinery is in- 
stalled, and that will take all I've saved." 

" School's still pretty far away, is it HoUis ? " 
*' Miles, Pop. So far away I just can't see it." 
Pop wiped his face. HoUis had changed. His voice 
had an edge of cynical hardness. Even his face seemed 
to have been set in harder lines. He seemed older. But 
the thing that shocked Pop more than Hollis' pale face 
and bitterness was HoUis' hands. They were always 
on the move. Hollis, whose steady hands had always 
reflected the calm, even course of his life, now showed 
his new situation through those same hands. Without 
knowing it, he drummed with his fingers, or rubbed them 
together in a quick, nervous motion. There was about 
his whole body that feeling of restlessness, of never 
being still. Even when his mouth was quiet, and his eyes 
closed wearily in the sun, his foot tapped steadily, or his 
fingers twisted and turned in nervous motion. 
'' How's Mr. Small? " Hollis asked. 
" Fine. He asked about you. Said to tell you he'd 
like a letter if you find the time." 

" I've been meaning to write. But I never seem to 
get down to it. It's hard to. After work it's hard to do 
anything. You feel all worn out, but you can't sit down. 
You keep walking around, fidgeting with things, wish- 
ing the springs inside you would uncoil, so you could get 

<r 144^ 

some rest. When you do get quiet enough to write — 
then you're so tired you go right to sleep." 

"Everybody Hke that? " 

" No. Some fellows don't seem to mind it. Some 
work under strain and noise all day and don't turn a 
hair. Others can't take it at all. Most of us are in 
the middle. We can do it if we have to." 

" I couldn't work around a lot of noise," said Pop. 
" I'd have the jitters." 

" One of the good things Vanguard is doing is the 
job tests they're going to have," said HoUis. " Every- 
body takes the same tests, and they can find out from 
that which men ought to have which jobs. Then they'll 
try to fit the man to the job." 

*' What's the union think of that? " 

" For it a hundred per cent. Gives a man a better 
chance to get ahead if he can get the right job." 

*' Maybe you'll get to be a mechanic — ? " 

Hollis shook his head. " Not me. Pop. TheyVe 
got engineers to do the work I'd hke to get my hands on. 
If I ever got through school, though, I'd like to make 
a real try for that kind of job here." 

Pop looked at the tremendous spread of the Van- 
guard plant. " Big, isn't it ? " 

Hollis nodded. He felt that Pop was just choosing 
other words for really saying, " We're small, aren't 

They went home late in the afternoon. The others 
were still in the house, taking advantage of every spare 
minute to rest. 

This time they were more open in their speech. Pop 

mainly sat and listened while they discussed the union 
and the work. 

There was a new man In their midst. Hollis remem- 
bered having seen him at union meetings, but didn't 
know his name. He was short and thin, with a sus- 
picious look in his eyes, and a mouth that carried a per- 
petual twist of cringing defiance. Gabby introduced 
him. ** This Is Pete Eritt. He's joining us. Taking 
your old room, Hollis." 

Harry started telling something about a union affair 
in his slow voice, dropping his h's and adding them to 
beginning e's where they didn't belong. 

Pop sat listening, saying nothing. 

" Did you hear about Roy Walters ? " Jerry broke in. 
" They let him out." 

"How come?" 

" Company decided to drop the charges and the union 
won't prefer any. That's to help the new labor rela- 
tions setup get off to a flying start." 

" Good," said Hollis. " Maybe things are starting 
to happen around here." 

Pete Eritt snorted derisively. " It's the bunk," he 
said contemptuously. *'It's the old run-around. The 
idea is to get us off guard so they can deliver a sneak 

"What's your Idea?" Jerry asked. 

" Keep after Vanguard," said Pete. " Bring 'em 
Into court. We won't win, because the courts is corrupt. 
But we can make a howl. I wouldn't let 'em get away 
with nothin'. If they get rough, we can get rougher, on 
account of there's more of us." Pete guffawed. 

^ 146^ 

Harry shook his head. " We want to get away from 
that kind of thing. We can't always be 'ittin' at the 
company and them at us." 

" Always was that way and always will be/' grunted 
Pete. " Now that we got the union recognized, we 
ought to slap our demands on the table, and if they 
won't take 'em, we oughta shut down the plant tighter 
than a drum." 

" That's a selfish attitude," said Pop, coming into the 
discussion for the first time. " There are other people 
in the world besides you. If the men fighting Hitler 
don't get supplies from us, and he wins, you'll be 
whistlin' a different tune." 

Pete lit a cigarette and flicked the match on the car- 
pet. *' Where'd this warmonger come from? " he said 
nastily. He looked Pop over closely. *' Where's your 
union button, Fat Stuff? " 

" I don't belong to any union," replied Pop heatedly. 
" And I'll work for nothing before I'd ever join one that 
allowed you in." 

Pete jumped up and advanced on Pop, the cigarette 
dangling from his mouth. *' Watch your big mouth," 
he snarled, '* or I'll close it for you." 

Everyone jumped to his feet, but Hollis was quickest. 
He towered in front of Pete. " Sit down," said Hollis, 
the muscles in his jaw quivering. 

Pete stepped back. " Protecting a scab, huh? The 
union's gonna hear about this. You'll get yours too." 

Jerry pushed Hollis aside and confronted Pete. His 
eyes were hot. " A few more cracks like that, and this 
will be your last day here as well as your first." Jerry 

^ 147 ^ 

turned to face Hollis. " Maybe I ought to tell you, 
Hollis, that Pete is a very close friend of Latrim's. 
And while I'm talking I'll say this : we know why you're 
here, Eritt. We don't like stool pigeons in or out of 
the union. You can run back and tell your pal Latrim 
that I said so too.'* 

Pete Eritt's face changed color. ** This place seems 
to be too good for a union man," he sneered. *' All 
right, I'm moving out. Right now too. But you guys 
will be sorry you shot your mouth off about Latrim. 
He's gettin' to be a big shot, and he'll ease you guys out 
so fast you won't know what happened." Pete stalked 
out of the room and went upstairs to get his things. 

Gabby whistled. '' You spilled the works that time, 
Jerry. And I thought I was the gabby one." 

" I probably should have kept m.y mouth shut," 
growled Jerry. "'But I could see what that rat was 

'' At least we're getting rid of him," said Harry. " I 
didn't like the idea of his being around." 

Hollis sat down. *' What's it all about?" 

" Latrim's out to get you," said Jerry. " That's 
what it's all about. He sent Pete to live here to keep 
an eye on you and see if he could get anything on you 
that he could pin some kind of frame-up on." 

*' He could have stayed," said Hollis. " There's 
nothing on me to get. I don't have to be afraid of 

" You don't know Latrim," said Gabby. *' He's 
an old hand at that sort of thing. He could get rid of 
anybody. You're not through with him yet." 

-^ 148^ 

Pop's composure returned, and with it an active in- 
terest in the intrigue that seemed to be settling around 
HoUis. " Who's Latrim ? What's he got against Mol- 
lis ? " Pop was up in arms at anyone who had ill inten- 
tions toward the boy. 

" One of our organizers," Jerry explained. " He's 
got a lot of old-time notions, but he's also got a lot of 
power. Hollis has some ideas that Latrim doesn't 
like, so he's trying to get rid of HoUis." 

" He'd better not try to hurt you," said Pop grimly 
to Hollis. " Or he'll have to deal with me." 

" Don't worry. Pop," said Hollis. " I can take care 
of myself. But Latrim's the kind of union organizer 
that gives the unions their black eye. He's like a weed, 
and weeds can be hard to pull up once they've gotten a 
good start." 

" I always thought all union men were like that," 
Pop confessed. *' I'm glad to see I was wrong." 

"Does HoUis know about the election?" Gabby 

Jerry frowned at Gabby, but the secret was out. 
Hollis looked around for an explanation. 

" We're running you for shop steward in our depart- 
ment," said Jerry. " You're sort of heading the move- 
ment in our local against Latrim, and if you win, it will 
be a blow to him." 

" I don't know anything about being a steward," 
protested Hollis. " What does one do? " 

" You're the union representative. When anybody 
has a grievance, it goes through you. You get to meet 
with the company to present our side." 

*' Who's running against me? " 

Jerry grinned. " I'll give you one guess." 

HoUis looked up at the ceiling. " Eritt? " 

" On the nose." 

" I'll run," said Hollis. " Even if I was antiunion I 
could do a better job than he could. He's too tough 
for his size." 

" Talks a lot," said Harry. " I've seen his like be- 
fore, both here and in England. They make all the 
noise, stir up all the trouble, and sneak out when the 
showdown comes. We need responsible heads, like 
'ollis 'ere. At least you can learn how to do things 
right. That kind never will." 

" What kind of a chance do I have? " Hollis asked. 
** I'd like to know what I've got on my hands." 

" Fifty-fifty chance. It'll be close either way. One 
bad break for either side may decide the election." 

" You'll get it, Hollis," said Pop. " Any man ought 
to trust you twenty times over before he'd let that Eritt 
handle anything." 

**You don't know union politics," said Gabby. 
" Right now our soul isn't our own. Other unions have 
given money and organizers to help us get started. 
Their pay for that is in cash and power. That's how 
Latrim came in from the outside. It was either him or 

" No other union is going to control the GEIU," 
Jerry vowed. " And no union politician, big or little, Is 
going to use us as any pawn. We're getting stronger 
now, and we'll be on our feet financially. Then we can 
afford to pay our own organizers — men who came out 

^ 150-^ 

of the shops, like Roy Walters. And we'll run our own 
union for the benefit of its members, as it ought to be 


" With every convention packed with machine men ? " 
said Gabby. 

" We'll unpack them. We'll fight to kick out every 
Latrim in our union." 


" If we can get the membership behind us, we can 
do it. That's why we need people like Hollis to lead 
our side. Honest people, who believe in democracy 
and fairness. There aren't many men who won't stick 
with us on those terms. Those who won't, we don't 
want anyway." 

" Right," chimed in Harry. " That's the spirit." 

The tension eased, and the conversation turned to 
other questions. Every topic of current interest came 
in for its share of attention. The war, sports, politics. 
Pete Eritt was completely forgotten. 

During one of the lulls in the conversation, Pop, not 
knowing what dynamite he carried on his tongue, 
turned to Hollis and casually asked, " Did you ever see 
that fellow that got you to come here in the first place 
— that Jason somebody — Franks, wasn't it? " 

As soon as the words were out of his mouth. Pop 
knew he had said something wrong. The very air in 
the room seemed about to explode. Hollis suddenly 
reahzed that he had never gotten around to telling 
anyone how he had come to Motor City in the first 
place. And that it should come about at this time, in 
this way — 

Jerry stared at Hollis, and the suspicion in his eyes 
was mirrored by Gabby and Harry. The silence was 
painful. It was broken by a harsh, triumphant laugh. 
They all turned to see Pete Eritt, a smug look on his 
face, standing at the foot of the steps with his suitcase 
in his hand. 

He laughed again and went to the door, waving a 
mocking salute. " Thanks for the information. Fat 
Stuff," he said to Pop. He went out, slamming the 
door behind him. 

^ 152* 


and silence moved in on his heels. Silence that crouched 
In the room and taunted Hollis. The air seemed to be- 
come smoky with suspicion. The rustle of the newspa- 
per In Harry's hands sounded like thunder. Pop's 
tense, wheezy breathing hissed like a locomotive. The 
warm sun poured In the windows, but the eyes that 
looked at Hollis were cold. 

Hollis looked from face to face. When his eyes met 
Jerry's, he saw a fleeting look of hurt, and then the cold- 
ness moved In again. 

It was Harry, older, tired, and more tolerant, who 
gave Hollis a chance. 

'' It looks bad, 'ollis. What do you have to say about 

Hollis snapped out of the lethargy that had struck 
him. He shook off the feeling of helplessness. A flame 
of rebellion Ignited in his heart and flared to indignant 
height. He faced his friends seriously and simply, tell- 
ing his story, telling how he had rescued Franks from a 
ditch, and the conditions that led to his coming to Mo- 

tor City. He told the full story — and they believed 

" We believe you," said Jerry fiercely. " But that's 
only because we know you. We're licked." 

" I can withdraw from the election If I'm nomi- 
nated," Hollls suggested. 

Jerry shook his head. " You've got to go through 
with It. Latrlm's got us right where he wants us now. 
He'll spread the word that you're a spy, brought In 
by the company. If you withdraw, he'll point to 
that as proof of his accusation. You've got to fight it 

*' Why should he be ashamed of having been given 
a job by Franks? " put in Pop. " That doesn't make 
Hollls a spy." 

" It does to a lot of men here," said Gabby, biting 
his fingernails. " You wouldn't know about this, Pop 
— and I guess Hollls doesn't either — but fellows like 
Hollls have been used to bust the union before." 

" Like this," said Jerry. " The company goes out 
into the farm sections, where antiunion feeling Is the 
highest, and where young fellows aren't familiar with 
our problems. It gives them jobs In the plant with the 
understanding that these fellows will resist the union and 
fight against it. Some companies even give the farm 
boys an antiunion study course before they put them to 
work. The men have had their fingers burned with that 
kind of thing too many times. All they have to know is 
how Hollls got his job, and his name Is mud." 

HolHs saw then what would happen. Latrim would 
use him as the scapegoat for an attack on all that Hol- 

lis and his friends stood for. By discrediting Hollis, 
Latrim could discredit Hollis' ideas about co-operation 
and win complete control for his own faction. 

Again Hollis felt the agonizing helplessness of be- 
ing up against an impersonal world. He could con- 
vince his few friends of his honesty, but he couldn't 
convince ten thousand strangers. The more he cried 
his good intentions, the more they would suspect him. 
Hollis knew Latrim would try to hound him out of the 
union and out of Motor City. Latrim was determined 
to drive him out in such a way that everything Hollis 
stood for would be thrown out with him. 

"Why didn't you tell us this before?" Gabby 

*' I never thought about it," confessed Hollis. He 
was bitter against himself. " I was just a big dumb 
kid from the country with a head full of romantic no- 
tions about the auto plants.'* Hollis stopped. Some- 
thing was revealed to him for the first time — some- 
thing that took his breath away, as though he had been 
hit in the solar plexus. 

" The union isn't alone in thinking I'm a stool pi- 
geon," he said dully. " So does the company." 

Hollis got up and paced the floor. '* Jerry, remem- 
ber the day the VSP grabbed me — my first day, when 
I was changed from headlights to the speed wrench? " 


Hollis clenched his big fists. " The reason they 
changed me, and the reason they didn't beat me up, 
was that I told them Franks had gotten me my job. 
They said something about my being useful in the new 

job, and they seemed glad I was rooming with you. I 
didn't understand then, but I do now." 

*' Sure," said Gabby. *' They put you next to Freddy 
Brown because he's an active union man. You were 
supposed to spy on him." 

**And on me," said Jerry. "You should have told 
us, Hollis." 

" I wanted to, but it was all too confusing. I wanted 
to find out what was going on before I talked too much. 
Every time I opened my mouth, I either made some- 
body mad or suspicious.'* 

" You're in a fine mess now," said Harry, shaking 
his head sadly. 

Hollis wanted to tear something in his hands. He 
was helpless. The big, unseen forces that moved around 
him were grinding him between their wheels. What 
was one man, or one voice? He could cry out, but he 
would be a voice crying in the wilderness. One man 
didn't have a chance. The mighty current of thou- 
sands picked him up, sweeping him along. And when 
that current decided to suck him under, or hurl him on 
the beach, or slide him into a stagnant backwater, there 
was nothing he could do about it. He was a man beat- 
ing with his fists against the Chinese Wall. 

" I'll fight it," said Hollis grimly. " I'll fight La- 
trim's lies and the lying evidence that's against me. I 
know my ideas are good. I won't let them be beaten off 
by any self-seeking thug. I don't care about myself so 
much. I can get other jobs. But it isn't just me. I 
feel that I've got some of the answers to Motor City. 
They've got to have a fair chance." 

** We'll nominate you/' said Jerry. " We'll back you 
up. Three days Isn't much time, but we'll do what 
we can. Maybe we'll be licked this time, but we'll 

Hollls noticed Pop. The stout little garageman was 
sitting quietly with a doleful look on his face. He saw 
what harm his careless words had done to Hollls. That 
he, of all people, should be the one to hurt Hollls was 
something that seared deep down Into Pop. His face 
was gray, as though he suffered physical pain. 

HoUIs sat down by Pop. " Don't worry," he said. 
" If It wasn't this. It would have been something else. 
I'd rather fight a true Issue than some frame-up Latrim 
might try. After all. Pop, we can't win every battle. 
It's the last one that counts." 

Pop smiled thinly. *' Thanks, Hollls. I guess I'd 
better be getting back to the hotel. My train leaves 
pretty soon." 

Hollls put out a restraining hand. " You're not go- 
ing to go feeling this way," he said firmly. Hollls felt 
older than Pop, in a way. 

Pop rose. " I've got to, Hollls. Garage has to be 
open, you know. Tomorrow's Monday, and some 
farmer will be In with a busted truck." 

Hollls saw It was useless to argue. " O. K., Pop. 
But don't worry about me. Maybe It's all for the best. 
The sooner things come to a head, the sooner they'll be 

Jerry, Gabby, and Harry shook hands with Pop. 
They also urged him not to feel any remorse for what 
had happened. 

" I'll try to explain what kind of union you stand 
for,'* Pop promised. " So when you win, you'll have 
some friends out in the farm country." 

" That's the spirit," said Gabby cheerfully, clapping 
Pop on the back. " You'll be doing us a real service 
that way. Maybe we'll appoint you as a sort of travel- 
ing union good-will man." 

Pop insisted on going back to his hotel alone. HoUis 
watched him go, looking through the window. Pop 
tried to march away as though he had never heard of 
trouble, but before he reached the end of the block his 
shoulders sagged, and Hollis saw him reach for the big 
red bandanna and blow his nose. 

" Poor Pop," said Hollis quietly. " I feel sorry for 
him." He turned away from the window. " Let's get 
to work," he said crisply. *' We've got three days." 

They started out by making a list of the men in their 
local they could count on. Freddy Brown was one, and 
he in turn could bring over a number of men. It finally 
came down to the fact that they had a strength about 
equal to Latrim's. The balance of power lay with the 
intermediates — men who had no definite policies as 
yet, new men in the union, silent ones, the " I don't 
knows." They held the power. They would decide the 

" We'd better go over and see Freddy tonight," said 
Jerry. " He'll be home. Maybe he can help us get un- 
der way." 

After supper Hollis set out with Jerry and Gabby. 
They had to walk across town to arrive at the Negro 
section. Hollis had never been there before. He had 

wondered where the Negro workers lived, and now he 

You took the poorest of the white dwellings — the 
unpainted houses, dreary row after dreary row — and 
subtracted central heating, bathrooms, and sewers. 
You imagined the lowest standard of living you could 
exist under, and then you lowered it. That was the 
Negro section. 

Men like Freddy Brown were the luckiest. They 
worked steadier than did the majority of Negroes in 
the section. They could afford the better houses, and 
the few meager comforts. But the entire section was 
drab with poverty that knows no single ray of hope. 
Here were the sweepings of Motor City. Here was an 
ugly sore that could not be hidden, that belied the 
story of sumptuous river homes and modernistic offices. 
Here was the sprawling, dirty truth that cried failure 
to the giant smokestacks and the impressive assembly 

Shacks that leaned wearily in an effort to stand up 
crowded close to the sidewalk. Broken windows, cov- 
ered over with newspaper, were as numerous as whole 
panes. Sagging porches, crumbling bricks, dingy stores. 
The stench of a decayed city hung in the air, filling the 
lungs of those who breathed it with sick despair. 

Mass poverty in Motor City. Just like mass every- 
thing else. Mass poverty — mass middle-class homes 
in neat, dreary rows — mass production even of the 
mansions that lined the river, even to the similar hedges, 
the guest cottages, and the expensive motorboats in 
similar boat houses. 

Front porches were crowded. The nights were still 
hot, and famihes found relief In the shadows of their 
homes, watching with curious eyes the three white stran- 
gers who walked In the city of the black. 

" This is awful," Hollis whispered to Jerry. *' How 
can they stand to Hve like this? " 

" They haven't any choice," said Jerry. *' This is 
the Negro section. All Negroes have to live here. 
They can't rent houses in other parts of the city even if 
they want to. They have to live here. So what hap- 
pens? The real estate people who own the houses 
charge them staggering rates for old shacks. It's take 
it or leave Motor City." 

" How do they manage? " 

" By living together," said Jerry. " Some houses 
have five or six families living together, each having 
one room. In that way they can pay the rent." 

" When they do work they get paid less than anyone 
else," Gabby added. " Freddy is a rare case. Most 
Negroes are given Inferior jobs. That's one thing the 
union has to break down. Equal pay for equal work 
and a chance for any man, regardless of his race or 
color, to get a job that he's capable of handling." 

They passed a large house with a sign nailed to a 
porch post reading, " Hot Beds 50^." 

Holhs pointed at the sign. " What are hot beds? " 

" Just that," said Jerry. " Men who can't afford to 
rent a room for themselves rent hot beds. The way it 
works out, three men, each working a different shift, 
rent the same room. Two of them are out while the 
third one is sleeping there. When he leaves to go to 


work, the next man comes home and has the bed for his 
eight hours. Actually, the bed never gets cold. Some- 
body's In it every hour of the day." 

Assembly-line sleeping. Mass rest. The bed turns 
out a rested man every eight hours, just as the line turns 
out a car or a tank. 

*' Why did they ever come here in the first place? " 
burst out Hollis. 

Gabby grinned cynically. " Same reason you did. 
High wages. Most of them were recruited from the 
deep South where conditions were the worst." 


*' Sure. Whenever the company had a little trouble 
with white workers, it would send agents Into Negro 
sections of the country to lure men North with the 
promise of good pay, more social freedom, and pros- 
perity all the way around. So when the white men 
struck, the Negroes were brought Into the factories to 
keep them running and break the strike. When the 
strike was broken the Negroes were kicked out, and the 
white men went back under the old conditions, or 

" Pretty game," grunted Hollis. 

" More than that," added Jerry. " That situation 
was used to create bad blood between the Negroes and 
the whites. Company agents would tell the whites that 
Negroes were taking their jobs away, and they'd tell 
the Negroes the white workers didn't want them In the 
factories. That was used to keep them fighting so they 
wouldn't get together In the same union." 

Hollis felt physical disgust. He could not imagine 

anyone being that calculating and cruel, or that even 
the worst kind of employer could dabble casually with 
human misery. He still could not believe it of Jason 

But that wasn't the end of it. Jerry and Gabby went 
on to explain how the same line was used to divide the 
white workers. Protestants were incited against Cath- 
olics, and Catholics against Protestants, and both 
against Jews. Polish workers were told their troubles 
started on account of the Hungarians, and the Hungari- 
ans were taught to hate the Russians. 

Threading through each of the national and racial 
groups were men who spread the poison of race hatred 
and nationalism. These men were Fascists. By play- 
ing upon these hatreds and building them up they grad- 
ually became the leaders of these groups. 

These Fascist leaders then got the ear of industry. 
They represented themselves as men who could save in- 
dustry from being taken over by Communism. They 
built up the Red bogey, attacked unions, and fanned 
hatreds — all under the guise of saving private enter- 
prise. And much of business — some of it afraid, 
some concerned, some worried, and others scheming — 
supported the local Fascist groups, never dreaming 
they were part of a world-wide scheme of terror and 
military conquest. 

That to a large degree was the poison that seethed 
In the veins of Motor City. Even in the union itself the 
Silver Shirts and their like tried for positions of leader- 
ship — tried to poison group against group under the 
cloak of Americanism. 

^ 162^ 

Motor City, with Its labor problem, its giant Indus- 
tries, and Its national and racial groups, became a focal 
point where all the little Fascists gathered. 

It was un-American to join a union, they cried. It 
was un-American for Negroes to be in white unions. It 
was un-American to include foreigners. The flag was 
waved to shreds, the drums beaten to bits, and throats 
shouted hoarse. The virus spread, contaminating those 
it touched, rotting the minds it Infiltrated. Disunity 
cracked the whip, and men became intolerant, suspi- 
cious, and bigoted. 

Three forces worked to combat the spread of this 
evil virus. They were interested government, enlight- 
ened management, and honest unionism. Awkward, 
halting, and sometimes confused, they worked closer 
together, seeking a common ground on which to meet. 

*' It's a job for all of us," said Jerry. " Labor, man- 
agement, and government. We've all got to do our 
part. It won't be easy, but we can't afford to lose." 

They went up the steps of Freddy's porch and 
knocked on the door. Freddy answered their knock, 
inviting them in with a wondering smile. 

They sat in his living room and explained what had 
happened at the boarding house. Freddy listened, 
shaking his head slightly. His soft brown eyes were 
troubled when he heard them through. " It's bad," he 
murmured. " Bad." He stroked the side of his face 
with a powerful hand, trying to think the matter 

Freddy was a veteran in union affairs. He had come 
into the union when it had been practically closed to 

Negroes. Once he had fought his own way through, 
he headed the struggle for the rights of other Negroes 
to belong. 

Freddy had been able to read and study when he was 
younger. He had been able to fight through his early 
feeHngs of inferiority and sensitiveness to view the 
problem of his people objectively. Once he saw and 
understood their road to a fuller life, he gave himself 
over to leading that struggle. Freddy was solid and 

*' ril pass the good word along," Freddy promised. 
" But Pm afraid Latrim's one up on us. He can make 
it sound very bad." 

There was a discreet knock at the door. Freddy 
went to open it. Hollis heard someone whispering ex- 
citedly to him while Freddy sought to calm his visitor. 
Hollis caught the words " riot " and " shooting," and 
felt an emptiness in his stomach. 

Freddy returned alone. He was grave. He settled 
into his chair and said nothing, thinking hard. 

" Trouble about Negroes' getting jobs," he said qui- 
etly. " White and colored workers clashed at the em- 
ployment office. There were some clubs swung." 

" Oh, oh," breathed Gabby. 

Jerry's breath hissed in between his teeth. " What 

*' There's a mob gathering at the park. They're go- 
ing to organize to keep all Negroes away from the plant. 
The fact that there were men in the fight today who 
carried clubs shows that somebody was coming for 

" Nobody's got a right to do that," said HoUis. " If 
the company needs men and wants to hire Negroes, 
that's a good thing. As far as I can see, the jobs should 
go to the men who can do them best, no matter what 
their color is." 

" It's not that simple," said Jerry. " It's like we 
were telling you. The first Negroes who came here 
were brought in by the company to break a strike. That 
made the union sore at them, and the union wouldn't let 
them in. When the strike was broken, the Negroes 
were kicked out, and the white workers taken back. 
The only time the company would ever hire them was 
to break a strike. You can see what that did. It made 
white workers hate the Negroes, and the Negroes hate 
the whites. Lately the union got a little wiser and 
began taking in Negroes. Now that the company wants 
to hire them, these two-bit Fascists are trying to wreck 
things by provoking a riot." 

" There's still so much bad feeling," said Freddy. 
*' We still don't have the trust we should have to work 
together. My people have been promised jobs, and 
those promises must be kept." His voice was deep with 
feeling. " If we are turned away again, it will shatter 
the faith of many of our people in our democracy. It 
will mean that we are second-class citizens when good 
things are given out, but first-class citizens when men 
are needed to fight." 

*^ We can't let a small group of vicious people wreck 
the chances of your people to get jobs," said Hollis. 
" What can the union do to help ? " 

It wasn't difficult for Hollis to put himself in the po- 

sitlon of one of those Negroes who had a chance at a 
job. Thinking about the shacks, he could imagine the 
joy and hope that must have come to those who were 
being given the chance to work. It meant a chance for 
a better life, a chance to rise out of the unsanitary- 
hovels Into which they had been thrust. And Hollis 
could imagine how they would feel when they were 
driven from the factory gates by white men with clubs 
and guns. How would they feel when they knew their 
brothers were dying on the battlefields to save both 
whites and blacks ? 

They needed the chance to work. The nation 
needed their hands, and they needed work that would 
make men out of them — men who were doing a needed 
job, men who were being given the chance of a lifetime 
to prove that they could work well, that they did want 
the better things in life, and that they could earn their 
right to a better life by the sweat of their brows. There 
was just so much kicking around a person or race could 
take without rebelling against injustice. Hollis knew 
from Freddy's words that the Negroes would not give 
up this chance. 

" The union has already issued a statement that it Is 
in favor of giving jobs to Negroes," said Jerry. " And 
the company has made It clear they will do it. But there 
will be men with union buttons in the mob that's being 

"What definite Information do you have?" Gabby 
asked Freddy. " Maybe we can do something." 

" There's a meeting tonight in the park. I've heard 
what the plan is. They plan to bar the employment of- 

fice to all Negroes." Freddy's face was grim. ** But if 
I know my people, they'll be there. We've got a right 
to work. No one has the right to deny us that chance. 
We can't give up now." 

" Maybe we could organize a group of white work- 
ers who would help get the Negroes through," Gabby 

" That's not the answer," said Freddy, shaking his 
head. " Fighting isn't the answer to this question. 
There's too much bad blood now. We've got to go 
down by ourselves. And if we're protected, it's got to 
be legal protection. But the answer is to do away with 
the ignorance and prejudices. That can't be done over- 

Jerry stood up. " Come on," he said to Hollis and 
Gabby. '' We're going to that meeting. It won't hurt 
us to know what they plan to do." 

Freddy saw them to the door. *' Be careful," he 
warned. " You're known to that bunch, and they don't 
like you any more than they like us." 

The three walked through another part of the Negro 
section to get to the park. Hollis saw that the Negroes 
who watched them pass were watching suspiciously. 
They probably thought they were among those who 
didn't want them to have jobs. 

Resentment was at fever pitch, and the subversive 
agitators were making the most of it. As Hollis ap- 
proached the park, he saw that several hundred men 
were already there. 

A large bonfire was already burning, its red glow 
providing the ominous light for the meeting. The si- 

lent crowd of men who came to listen merged with the 
blackness of the night to make up the terrifying, shape- 
less form of that monster the Mob. 

Hollis, with Jerry and Gabby, found places in the 
deep shadows that gave them a view of the scene. Two 
or three men were feeding the fire. Standing apart in 
a small group were ten other men who seemed to be 
leaders. Behind them was a giant crude effigy of a 
Negro that was being soaked with kerosene for later 
burning. Farther away, held by another shadowy fig- 
ure, the American flag waved from a standard. 

Hollis saw this and felt the impulse to run and tear 
the flag from his hands. To see such a gathering try 
to cloak itself with the protecting folds of the 
symbol of free America was maddening, even to a 
calm mind. 

One of the leaders stepped forward and held up his 
hands for silence. Silence came, grim, terrifying, and 
heavy with the feeling of violence. 

In a mob the individual can be carried away by the 
mass hysteria that comes over him. He can be violent 
and lawless, feeling safe, because around him there are 
hundreds of others doing the same thing. Protected by 
this feeling, he loses himself as an individual and be- 
comes a violent cog in a destructive machine. 

That was hatred and violence in Motor City. It too 
had to be on a mass-production basis. Men fought and 
destroyed together, as though on the assembly line. 

There lay the danger in mobs. There lay the seeds 
that sprouted into crimes that a man alone would not 
think about, much less commit. But as a member of the 

mob, he thinks with the mob mind. The leader is the 
power switch, and the mob is the machine. 

A man began to speak. As he did so, the figure be- 
hind him was suddenly set aflame. It burned luridly 
against the black night, and the speaker's features were 
hidden in shadows. 

The speaker's voice was powerful. In this strange, 
eerie scene, it spread the easy drug of hatred. HoUis 

" Fellow white Americans I 

" This country was founded by white Americans for 
\yhite Americans. It should and must be run for white 
Americans. Our Government has been captured by the 
Jews, the Niggers, and the Communists. Americans 
have been driven out, and foreigners are in control. 
That's the cause of our troubles. Real Americans can't 
afford decent places to live because Niggers get fancy 

" Our Communist-Jew Government has gotten us in 
the war to kill off the real Americans. Save the world 
for the Jews and Niggers, while they get rich at home. 
That's what it amounts to. 

" Are you going to let them put the Niggers in jobs 
that ought to go to real Americans? " 

The speaker halted. A few " No I No I " cries 
sounded from different parts of the audience. The 
word was repeated, taken up by others. It rose from a 
cry to a shout, and from a shout to a roar — a roar like 
that of savage beasts gone mad. 

The very night shrank from the fury of the blind 

^ 169^ 

" TheyVe got stooges in the crowd," Jerry yelled 
Into Hollis' ear. '' They start yelling when the speaker 
gives the cue. But it looks spontaneous." 

The speaker was going again. It seemed to Hollis 
that he had heard that voice before. He felt sure that 
if he caught one glimpse of the speaker^s face, it would 
be one that he knew. 

" We'll be here tomorrow," the speaker shouted 
hoarsely. " We'll be here with clubs to see that no 
Niggers get any jobs ! " 

The roar of the crowd rose higher, and fiercer. They 
were howling for blood now. All the men who had 
been beaten down all their lives, all the little men who 
had been kicked around from job to job, given low 
wages, forced into poverty, all these little men found 
somebody to hate. Somebody they could attack. Some- 
body they could blame for their ills. 

It was easy that way. If you blame the big companies 
for throwing you out of work, all you can do is grumble. 
If you blame Wall Street, Wall Street is far away, and 
is a street, not a person. If you blame the Government, 
you can vote against it, and still not have a job. You 
can blame them all, and not have anything to show for it. 

But if someone with a poison tongue tells you to hate 
the Negroes, or the Jews, or the Greeks, you can do 
something about that. If somebody tells you they are 
the ones who are responsible for your bad fate, you 
can attack them. 

If you stop to think that Greeks and Czechs and Jews 
and Catholics and Negroes are just poor people like 
you are, and in the same boat, you will know they weren't 

responsible for your troubles any more than you are 
responsible for theirs. You will laugh it off. 

But if you stand hypnotized by bonfires and oratory 
and let the mob mind do its twisted thinking for you, 
you can believe it. You can believe that your neighbors 
with accents or dark skins are the cause of your troubles. 
And you can attack them. 

You can join the mob, grab a club, and attack them. 
You can forget your own helplessness against the mass 
world by wrecking the home of someone weaker than 
you are. You can fool yourself into thinking you are 
strong by hating the weakest, and attacking the defense- 
less. You can even maim and loot and burn, and do it 
in the name of your country. 

That's what was happening in the park now. In the 
land of the free, men who hated freedom were spurring 
one part of the population to war on the other, to split 
the country into a hundred weak fragments that would 
destroy it physically and morally. And because it was 
the land of the free, a handful of police hung around 
in the shadows — to protect the speakers. 

Then, in a flash, HoUis realized who the speaker was. 
He turned to Jerry, hardly knowing that he spoke. 
" That's Latrim speaking," HoUis shouted angrily. 

He shouted — and shouted during a lull that picked 
up his voice and shattered the silence. Every head 
turned toward Hollis, craning to see him. 

A shrill voice that Hollis recognized as belonging to 
Pete Eritt shrieked out to the crowd. ** There's a Red 
spy. Get him I " 

It was the spark that exploded the crazed mob into 

action. Screaming their hatred, they pushed and shoved 
in an effort to claw at Hollis and his friends and drag 
them down to earth. 

The crowd smelled blood. All restraint was gone 
in that moment of motion. A thousand violent cries 
rent the night. 

"Kill him I" 

"Lynch him I" 

" String him up I *' 

Hollis backed away from the nearest of his attackers, 
swinging his big fists to good advantage. "Run!" 
Jerry cried. " Run, Hollis ! " 

Hollis knocked aside a hand that reached for his 
throat. He turned and darted away in the darkness, 
close on the heels of Gabby and Jerry. 

Behind, the mob took up the chase in full cry. The 
night was dotted with the flare of torches as the shout- 
ing, yelling mass swept forward in angry pursuit. 

^ 172^ 


through the night-blackened streets knowing that if he 
faltered he would be pulled down and torn to pieces. 

The mob came after him, hungry torches aloft. Hol- 
lis put every ounce of energy into his running, but it 
seemed that he moved slowly. He imagined his pur- 
suers were closing in on his heels — their shouts sounded 
louder and angrier. 

Running abreast with Gabby and Jerry, Hollis 
pounded away, heading into the twisted, narrow streets 
that offered the only chance of a hiding place. 

Their flying feet sounded the alarm. As they swept 
past, startled Negro families, hearing the mob and see- 
ing the advancing torches, hastily jumped up and dis- 
appeared in the night, crying out to their families to 
run and hide. 

The Terror swept into the Negro district. Once 
there, it found victims in the old shacks and the run- 
down stores. Its progress was marked by the crash of 
breaking windows and the screams of those who were 
caught in the whirlpool of violence. 

The mob had started after Hollls, but no mob is satis- 
fied with one victim. Mass violence demands mass vic- 
tims. The resentments and hatreds of hundreds cannot 
be slaked by one small sacrifice, not when each feels the 
need to inflict injury and damage. The woods were full 
of hares, and the dogs ran wild. 

They went about their business of saving America 
by burning the old houses and beating those inhabitants 
who were too slow in getting away. 

Drunk with early success, and lighted by the flames 
of homes that had been put to the torch, the mob split 
up, flowing down different streets, breaking down doors, 
smashing furniture, and looting the few pitiful items of 
value that remained in their path. 

The spearhead of the mob, with Pete Eritt in the 
lead, kept after Hollis, Jerry, and Gabby. Beating Ne- 
groes and smashing windows might satisfy the main 
body of the mob, but Pete and his followers had a more 
definite mission. Hollis was a threat to their union 
power, and here, in the darkness, under the cloak of 
mass violence, he might be caught and disposed of. 

Even as he shouted the mob on, Pete planned ahead. 
When Hollis was found next day, the whole thing could 
be blamed on the Negroes. The papers would assume 
that he had been part of the mob. Pete laughed aloud. 
Hollis could become a symbol for revenge against the 
Negroes. Avenge Hollis I could be the slogan — and 
the Negroes would suffer. 

Hollis and his friends pulled up for a moment at the 
end of an alley. There were several crooked streets 
that led away from it. 

^ 174^ 

" Let's separate," panted Jerry. '' We stand a bet- 
ter chance that way." 

HoUis nodded in the darkness, breathing heavily. 

Gabby was breathing hard, almost sobbing. Behind 
them the glare of burning houses lit up the sky. In the 
far distance, the wail of approaching fire engines 
shrieked disaster. Gabby suddenly darted down one of 
the streets, wings of fear speeding him along despite his 

A quick figure, slipping from shadow to shadow 
called out in an uncertain voice, " Jerry Landis? Hol- 
lis MacEachron?" 

They turned quickly. The caller was about to 

" That's us," said Jerry. 

The figure beckoned to them. " Come with me. 
Freddy Brown sent me." 

They joined the man. He was a slightly built Negro, 
his face tense and filled with fear. " Follow me," he 
said huskily, setting off. 

They followed him in a devious, twisting course. 
Down an alley they went, and then, bent low, stumbling 
through back yards, falling over boxes, fighting their 
way through piled junk and litter. 

As they ran, they were aware of other fleeing figures 
racing through the night, going by silently, looking back 
over their shoulders. 

Their guide went forward with certain steadiness, as 
though he had traveled that route many times. They 
began bumping into junk iron. Hollis banged his knees 
against pieces of rusty machinery. He was still lost, 

^ 175 ^ 

but the sounds of the mob had fallen behind and could 
be heard only faintly. 

In the middle of this waste of discarded machinery 
and metal, their guide stopped. He looked cautiously 
around, then called softly, " Freddy Brown? " 

*' That you. Will?'* 

" Me." 

"You alone?" 

** Two white boys with me." 

They heard the sound of a moving body near them, 
and soon the powerful form of Freddy Brown was sil- 
houetted against the sky. 

"Who's missing? " he asked first, sliding down by 

" Gabby," said Jerry. " He went off alone." 

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Freddy 
chuckled. " That boy's really fast. They'll never catch 
him. He outran a mounted cop once a few years 

"How'd you know where to find us? " Hollis asked 
in the darkness. " Did you send Will out? " 

Freddy made a soft sound with his mouth. " I been 
through all this before," he said wearily. " In the 
South too. I figured you might be recognized by some 
spy, so after you left, I sent Will along to keep an eye 
on you." 

" I woulda got you sooner," said Will, " but when 
that mob started, I started too. Just couldn't help run- 
nin'. Then I stopped and went back." 

Hollis found Will's hand and shook it. " Thanks," 
he said. Hollis knew the risk Will had run by heading 

back toward the mob. But he had done it. Done it for 
three white men while a hundred other whites were 
burning his home to the ground. 

*' We're safe here," said Freddy. '' We've always 
kept an eye on this place. Mobs are cowards, and they 
won't come here because we've got an even chance 
against them. We'll all stay here till morning, then we 
can go back — if there's anything to go back to." 

" Latrim was leading that thing," said Hollis. " I'm 
sure I recognized his voice." 

*' See his face?" 

*' No." 

*' You can't prove It, Hollis." 

** But I know It was Latrim," protested Hollis. 

** So do I. So do a lot of people. But how could we 
prove it?" 

" What's he doing In the union If he feels like that? " 

" All kinds of people in the union," said Freddy philo- 
sophically. " Good and bad. Just like any other organ- 
ization. He's got his reasons; we've got ours." 

" He's a native Fascist," said Jerry. " He's after 
power In the union, so he can use it for his own ends — 
and the ends of the people higher up than he is." 

*' Why Isn't he kicked out?" Hollis demanded. 
" Does Roy Walters know about him? " 

*' Probably. But Roy is hampered by union politics 
too. Until we can get rid of the Latrim machine In our 
union, we can't give Walters the support he needs to 
carry on his fight against the big union men who are be- 
hind Latrim." 

Hollis settled himself as comfortably as he could, pre- 
^ 177^ 

pared to spend the night in the open. He couldn't be- 
lieve that this was America. It just didn't happen in 
America — that men had to hide like hunted animals 
from the violence of other men. It was something out 
of the barbaric past. It didn't jibe with the words, " All 
men are created equal." 

When men are equals they don't have to stand by and 
see their homes burned. Equal men aren't hunted with 
clubs. " Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness " 
didn't add anything about the right to organize mobs to 
terrorize other Americans, or divide the country into 
groups of ** real " and synthetic Americans. 

The Devil could do more than quote the Scriptures. 
He was equally adept at mouthing the Constitution and 
waving the flag. 

Hollis slept, uncomfortable as he was. Shortly be- 
fore dawn, when the night was pale and thin, he woke 
to find Jerry, his face drawn and haggard, still sitting 
awake. Freddy was asleep with his head between his 

As the day came on and Hollis could see farther away, 
his eyes took in a scene that he would never forget. The 
cover of night drew back to disclose a mammoth waste- 
land of ruined machines and piles of rusty junk. In this 
harsh wilderness of dead machines, thousands of people 
huddled for safety. 

Hollis saw them stretched on the ground or crouched 
in tense positions, dozing from sheer weariness. Here 
and there one who couldn't sleep stared in the direction 
of home, where ugly black smoke still lifted toward the 
gray sky. 

Hollls' clothes were wet with the dew that covered 
men and metal. He was cold, and hungry. There was 
an emptiness in his stomach, and in his heart. He saw 
junk. Junk machines and junk humans cast on the same 
wasteland. And he, HoUis MacEachron, with his tou- 
sled blond hair and rugged face — with only twenty 
years behind him, and a hfetime ahead — was in the 
middle of the heap. 

Hollis looked down into Jerry's eyes. " Let's go 
home," he said. He looked down at himself. His suit 
was wrinkled and torn, smeared with mud and rust. 
His shirt was filthy. Jerry was the same way, his neat 
summer outfit hanging in a shapeless mass. 

Jerry reached down beside him and rescued what was 
left of a straw hat. He flipped it on his head and got 
to his feet, groaning. " O. K. Let's go." 

Hollis shook Freddy lightly. Freddy's eyes opened. 
'* We're going home, Freddy. Got to change clothes 
for work." 

Freddy got up and looked around. Already, little 
streams of people were heading back to where their 
houses used to be, hoping they still stood. Those who 
saw Jerry and Hollis exchanged glances and talked in 
low tones. 

Freddy sighed. " See you at work, Hollis." He 
turned and picked his way across the field of junk. 

Hollis and Jerry headed in the direction of home. 
As they walked, the sun came up. It was blazing with 
strength, flooding the world with brilliant Hght. It rose 
higher and higher, pointing with burning fingers at the 
evil the night had done. 

^ 179^ 

The newsboys were already on the streets, shouting 
their latest sensation. Hollls bought a paper. The 
stark headlines cried havoc in heavy black letters : 


Many Injured as Mob 
Invades Negro District 

Job Dispute Taken 

as Reason for Violence 

HoUis read the lead story quickly. " For once the 
union isn't blamed for the trouble/* he commented with 
slight bitterness. 

" What do you know I " said Jerry. *' Maybe that 
rag is undergoing a change of heart since we won recog- 
nition. Look at the editorial page." 

Hollls turned to the inside pages. " Special edito- 
rial," he said. *' Written on the spot." He whistled. 
" Boy, they're sure socking away at the thing. Calling 
for the leaders of the mob to be brought to justice." 

" By whom? " asked Jerry sarcastically. " Freddy 
was right about not having any proof." 

*' I saw Pete Eritt there." 

** And he saw you there. So what ? " 

Hollls saw where he was licked. *' What do you 
think will be done? " 

** Nothing." 

" I mean about the jobs." 

Jerry snorted. " Probably have a big political bat- 

" Guess youVe right," Hollis admitted. " The paper 

says there's going to be an investigation. Both sides 
demand a chance to be heard." 

" Too bad the union can't do anything." 

** Why can't it?" 

" With Latrim in control ? He's hoping for a chance 
to split the union wide open on a question like this. 
For the time being we'll just have to work unofficially." 

Mrs. Billings was waiting for them at the door when 
they got home. She breathed a great sigh of relief 
when she saw them. *' Gabby got home alone last night 
and told me everything/' she said. '* I've worried about 
you ever since." 

" I'm glad to hear Gabby made it," HoUis said. *' We 
were worried about him too." 

" Sit down and have something to eat, right now,'* 
Mrs. Billings Insisted. " You still have to work today, 
and you've just about time to change your clothes and 

At the factory, Freddy was at his place as usual when 
Hollis came in. Hollis noticed a cut under Freddy's 
left eye. Hollis questioned with his eyes. 

" Little run-in with some boys who didn't know the 
fun was over," said Freddy. " They won't work to- 

" Much damage? " Hollis asked, cradling his speed 
wrench in his arms. 

" Enough. Fire department couldn't do much be- 
cause there aren't enough hydrants in our district. My 
place came through with only a few busted windows." 

" Will you have to pay for fixing them? " 

"What do you think?" 

" Foolish question,*' said Hollls. 

The power came on and the assembly line started 
clanking Its monotonous tune. 

" If It was spring," said Freddy, " I'd let 'em go for 
a while. But with winter coming on — " 

The differentials claimed their full attention. The 
line was moving fast. 

Hollls' supporters were hard at work trying to swing 
votes his way. He knew he had the support of the Ne- 
gro workers In his department. He also had the sup- 
port of those who saw through Latrim and were ready 
to try to unseat him. They listened to the story of how 
Latrim was Intending to discredit Hollls and promised 
Hollls their vote. 

But the In-betweens just listened, saying nothing. 
They were waiting. 

On the night of the election, the hall was packed with 
men. Although the posts were minor ones, It was the 
first test of strength between Latrim and the opposi- 
tion. The feeling of that Impending struggle was In the 

The routine business of the meeting was soon over 
with. Latrim sat up front, on the platform, an un- 
llghted cigar clamped between his teeth. He was the 
picture of powerful confidence, even giving the appear- 
ance of blustering good cheer. 

If he knew of the campaign against him, he gave no 
sign. He draped his arm around the back of Freddy's 
chair In a friendly manner. 

His actions were having their effect. Hollls felt men 
looking at him in a questioning way. They were won- 

dering If he was right in what he had said about La- 
trim. It began to appear that Hollis was embarked on 
an underhanded campaign to defeat Latrim, the big, 
easygoing organizer. 

Then came nominations. 

Latrim's faction got off to a flying start by nominat- 
ing Pete Eritt. As soon as that nomination was made 
and seconded, another Latrim man took the floor for a 
nomination, naming a second Latrim candidate. 

HoHIs was the third on the list, since Jerry was on 
his feet to make the nomination before the second man 
was through. 

A quick motion from the back of the hall to cease 
nominations was made, and the motion was carried. 

Hollis was up against two machine men. One of the 
three would be elected. 

Then the usual discussion took place before the ac- 
tual elections. Men took the floor to support one or an- 
other of the candidates. Hollis* supporters were doing 
a good job, and as yet no direct attacks had been made 
on him. 

Then Latrim asked for the floor. 

" 1 don't wish to Interfere with the Internal affairs of 
this local,*' he said grandly, " but when the integrity of 
the union Is at stake, I cannot, I will not be still. 

" We have Brother MacEachron running for office 
In our organization. Before you pass judgment on his 
fitness by considering him as worthy of your vote, I feel 
it my duty to reveal several facts to you. When I am 
through. Brother MacEachron, I will ask you to point 
to any statement I may make that is untrue. 

" Union Brothers, Brother MacEachron did not get 
his job at Vanguard by ordinary means. He was re- 
cruited from the country to come here by — Jason 
D. Franks, the worst enemy of our union in Motor 

"Further: Brother MacEachron was assigned to 
headlight assembly. But after a talk with the VSP, he 
was changed immediately to work next to our local 
leader, Freddy Brown. The VSP put him there to spy 
on Freddy. That^s all I have to say. Brothers. Can 
you deny these facts. Brother MacEachron? '* 

Latrim ended his speech in an accusing thunder, point- 
ing his finger dramatically at Hollis. 

Hollis was literally rushed off his feet. How did La- 
trim find out about the VSP? Nobody had known 
about that but Jerry, Gabby, and Harry, and they cer- 
tainly would not have talked. 

Had Hollis been wiser in organizational ways, he 
might have had the presence of mind to ask Latrim 
where he got his information and for proof. 

But Hollis was still a babe in arms when it came to 
playing politics. All he knew was to give an honest an- 
swer, hoping to be heard. But as he stood up, he no- 
ticed that even Freddy Brown was looking at him with 
doubtful eyes. 

Hollis told how he had gotten his job, and how the 
VSP had mistaken him for a spy. He was heard through 
in silence — in a cold, unbelieving silence that almost 
froze the words to his lips. When he was through, he 
sat down. There was nothing else left to do. 

Latrim was on his feet in a moment. *' Everybody 

who believes that story," he said mockingly, " is in- 
vited to vote for Brother MacEachron." 

A wave of laughter greeted his remark. Latrim was 
riding firmly in the driver's seat again. 

The second man nominated withdrew his nomina- 
tion. It was now a fight between Hollis and Pete Eritt. 
It was a fight, Hollis knew, that was already won by 
Latrim. Hollis stayed to see himself go down in ig- 
nominious defeat. But, more than a personal defeat, 
it was a defeat for his ideas. Latrim's idea of industrial 
warfare was the one to which the men listened. 

Final proof to Hollis of his defeat was a motion, 
made by one of Latrim's henchmen, to suspend Hollis 
from membership and investigate his activities. 

The motion to suspend him was finally amended to 
include only an investigation, but it was passed. The in- 
vestigating committee was elected. It was made up 
of three Latrim men. 

When Hollis left, at the end of the meeting, many 
men who used to speak to him conveniently turned away 
as he passed. 

Jerry and Gabby walked home with Hollis. It heart- 
ened him to think that they still believed in him. 

"Oh, brother! " moaned Gabby. " Did we take a 
shellacking ! " 

*' Don't talk about it," said Jerry. 

" We've got to," said HoUis. *' I want to know 
where Latrim found out about my session with the 

" That's right," Gabby said. " Where did he find 

A new light came into Jerry's eyes. His face seemed 
to grow rounder as new hope surged in him. " Maybe 
we aren't licked at that," he said, pounding a fist into 
an open palm. " Maybe that's our big lead." 

*' How will we find out? " Gabby was pessimistic. 
" Ask if we can read his mail and listen to his telephone 
conversations? " 

" We can watch for breaks," said HoUis. " That's 
how he got us. We can keep our eyes open. He's 
bound to make a slip sometime." 

But if Hollis thought he was the only one planning 
an offensive, he found out differently the following 
morning. Latrim had him off balance and was deter- 
mined to keep him that way. When Hollis arrived at 
his place on the assembly line, he found a card on his 
wrench. It was a crude drawing of a rat, with his name 
lettered beneath it, 

Hollis crumpled the card angrily In his hand. He 
looked around, as though he expected to see the person 
who had put it there. 

Hollis looked at Freddy. " It was here when I came 
in," said Freddy. 

" You don't believe what Latrim said, do you? " 

Freddy sighed. *' I don't want to. I know what he 
is. But you've seen what can happen to Negroes. Hol- 
lis, right now I don't trust anybody. Just myself." 

At noon, Hollis found that he and Jerry were shunned 
by the other men. 

*' They're talking strike," said Jerry. 

** For when?" 

" Soon, probably." 

"What's the idea?" 

** You mean who's the idea. Latrim's got it all 
worked out. Figures with defense orders and lend- 
lease coming in fast, it's a good time to shut down." 

*' Good time for Hitler," said HoUis bitterly. 

" There go all your nice ideas about co-operation," 
said Jerry. 

" Looks that way. I'll keep trying though." 

" Then you'll surely look like a company man." 

" I don't care. A strike isn't the answer now. If we 
could only get the company to meet with us." 

"With Latrim? He'd threaten, they'd threaten, 
and it would be worse than before." 

Hollis clenched his hands. " If they could only see," 
he muttered. " If both sides could only see that the 
time is past for table-thumping and goon squads. This 
can't be the end — the last answer." 

The signal sounded that sent them back to their ma- 

" It's the last answer now," said Jerry. " What can 
we do?" 

Hollis went back to his wrench. That's the way it al- 
ways was. You could get so far, and then problems 
got bigger than you were. It was the same in the union 
as it was in industry. Above Latrim were other figures, 
looming large and powerful. It didn't matter what the 
individual thought or tried to do. If he bucked the ma- 
chine he was in the same position as bucking the assem- 
bly line, and mass production. He was pushed out of 
the way, and ground down. 

They were two machines. But why couldn't ma- 

chines work for the good as well as the bad? Mass 
production in itself wasn't evil. The products that 
came off the hne went to make life better and easier for 
the consumers. And in times of crisis, when sedans be- 
came jeeps, the country depended on mass production 
to keep it strong in the field. 

And the union. Why couldn't that be a better organ- 
ization? Why couldn't union machinery work without 
Latrim and his ilk ? Why did the two machines — mass 
production and mass men — have to be fighting, when 
. each depended on the other for existence? Machines 
needed men. Men needed machines. Why should they 
be at war? 

It didn't make sense. It only made sense if you de- 
cided that both machines were in control of men who 
had built them and didn't understand them. Industry 
feared, but didn't understand, the problems of having 
mass labor. Labor hated the machines it kept alive, and 
the men who owned those machines. 

So they fought each other for power. Only the men 
at the top didn't suffer. They didn't go hungry or get 
hurt. They directed. They decided the fate of all the 
little people who needed some place for their trust and 
some bank for their human hopes. 

Hollis could see it so clearly. It was as though two 
knights in armor were spurring at each other full tilt. 
Caught between their spears, impaled on both points, 
he saw the overalled figure of a worker. First the 
worker was destroyed, and then the knights — and 
then there was nothing. 

HolHs picked up his wrench. The card with the rat 

on it was there again. He tore this one up slowly. It 
didn't anger him. What good would it do to fight with 
sneaks ? 

Before the power was turned on, Bill came up. 

" I'm to take over your wrench, Hollis," he said un- 
easily. " Super wants to see you." 

Hollis went back to see Jim Stoner, the super. Stoner 
didn't look directly at him. " I've a new job for you, 
MacEachron," he said in clipped tones. " Sweeping up. 
You start this afternoon. You're to keep things in 
shape and watch for loose ends. That's all." 

*' But — " Hollis started to protest. 

" That's all," said Stoner. " Unless you want to 

Hollis nodded. This was probably another of La- 
trim's tricks. Something to expose Hollis to the taunts 
of all the workers in the department. Well, if Latrim 
thought Hollis could be driven out that way, he had an- 
other thought coming. " I'll take it," said Hollis. 
" Where's my broom? " 

Hollis swept. He went up and down between the 
rows of machines sweeping away the dirt of their work. 
HolHs MacEachron, mechanic, in Motor City to build 
cars. HolHs MacEachron, with a kit full of tools under 
his bed. Hollis MacEachron, the rube from the coun- 
try who was going to save Motor City from industrial 
warfare. Hollis MacEachron, broom pusher. 

Hollis walked home alone after work. He didn't 
feel he had the right to walk with men who ran the ma- 
chines. Not Hollis MacEachron, mechanic. 

He was the first one there. He stopped to look at 
^ 189^ 

the mail on the table. There was a letter addressed to 
him. The return address was Vanguard Motors. Hol- 
lis slit open the envelope. It was from Jason Franks. 
It asked him to stop in at Franks's office on Friday aft- 

Hollis put the letter in his pocket and went up to wash. 
What did Franks want with him? 

^ 190^ 



kicked against the metal tool kit that he kept under- 
neath. He grinned sourly. Tool kit 1 A broom closet 
was what he needed. 

For the first time, Hollis thought about leaving Mo- 
tor City. He wouldn't go back to Holden. He'd shoul- 
der his kit and look for other work. There must be 
some factory that could use him, some shop that needed 
another mechanic. 

But these thoughts didn't satisfy him. He couldn't 
leave the field clear to Latrim. He couldn't run out 
on the problems that surrounded him. It wasn't his 

The assembly line was beginning to get in his blood. 
Hollis thought of working without the clank of heavy 
machinery and the whir of wrenches. It was hard to 
imagine. No, he'd hang on. He remembered his last 
talk with Mr. Small, in Holden. The minister's words 
came back to him: *' ' For what shall it profit a man, if 
he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? ' " 

Maybe he would find a new job. But that could never 
wipe out the fact that he had run out on a tough situa- 
tion. It would mean that Hollis MacEachron, worker, 
dreamer, fighter for the right, had taken his first step 
toward becoming a quitter. Hollis decided to fight it 

He heard the familiar sound of Jerry's feet coming 
up the stairs. A moment later Jerry pushed the door 
open. His face was troubled. 

Hollis forgot his own worries for the moment. He 
waited for Jerry to speak. 

Jerry sat down by him on the bed. " Heard the bad 
news? " 

" That's all I've been hearing lately," said HoUis. 
" Which bad news do you mean? " 

" The union meeting." 

*' What one?" 

*' The one Latrim has called for Friday afternoon." 

" Let me get this straight," said Hollis. " You mean 
we're having a union meeting tomorrow afternoon? " 

" Right." 

"How come? Regular meeting isn't until next 

" Latrim's got enough stooges on the Executive Com- 
mittee to get through a call for a special meeting." 

" But why ? And why haven't we been told ? " 

" It's some scheme of Latrim's," said Jerry. '* It's 
an old trick. He's calling a special meeting to push 
through some piece of dirty work. He sees to it that 
all his gang will be on hand. We're not supposed to 


know about it, but to make It look legal we'll probably 
get our notices Saturday morning. He can always say 
he sent them out, and it wasn't his fault if we got them 
too late." 

''What can we do?" 

*' We can go," said Jerry, " and try to round up all 
the men we can count on and try to get them there. But 
I know we don't stand a chance. Whatever it is, La- 
trim will have it packed enough to win his point." 

" What do you think his point is? " 

Jerry shrugged. " Who knows? Maybe something 
to get you out of the union. Might be anything." 

*' I'd like to be there," said HoUis grimly. 

" Like to ! " exploded Jerry. " You've got to." 

HoUis shook his head. " Can't. Got another en- 

*' What's so important? " Jerry questioned. " This 
might mean your job." 

" So might the other," said Hollis. He took out his 
letter from Franks and showed it to Jerry. " What do 
you make of that? " 

Jerry read It through. " I don't know. But don't go 
showing this around. And don't let anyone see you 
with Franks. If that happened, you'd be out of the 
union so fast you'd never know what hit you." 

" You're the only one to know," said Hollis. " I 
wonder what he wants? " 

" Maybe his car broke down again," grinned Jerry. 
" Or else his tires are worn out and he figures you might 
know where he could get a new set." 


" How many of our fellows do you think you can get 
to the meeting? " Hollls asked, becoming serious. 

" Not enough," said Jerry dourly. *' At least we can 
see what's going on." 

** I'll keep my fingers crossed," said Hollis. 

" Wish you could be there," said Jerry. " At least 
you could put up a fight for yourself." 

*' Don't worry about that. I'll carry it higher If they 
try to force me out. So don't you get out on a limb on 
my account." 

"I won't," promised Jerry. Hollls believed him, 
and was glad. Jerry was too old a hand to tilt against 
windmills. He'd fight when there was a chance, but he 
also knew enough not to be rash. 

On Friday afternoon Hollis, dressed In his best suit 
of clothes, went to see Jason Franks. 

He waited In the outer oflice, perched uneasily on 
the edge of a luxurious leather couch. He was nervous 
and tense at the prospect of sitting across from Franks. 
And he was worried about the special union meeting 
that was going on. 

Hollls thought back to the rainy night when he had 
first met Franks — the night that had turned his life up- 
side down. He hadn't been nervous then. He had 
stood up to Franks as an equal, as an Independent hu- 
man being, to whom the rank and position of others 
meant nothing. 

Now It was different. He was coming to see the 
Boss. He was coming to see the man who had complete 
control over his job. The man who, with a stroke of 
his pen, could banish any one or more of thousands of 

^ 194^ 

men to the realm of unemployment. His whim could 
mean the difference between security and nothing for 
any man in the plant. 

HoUis felt this new relationship keenly. It put him 
at a disadvantage, and he didn't like it. He re- 
solved not to let it make any difference in the way he 
spoke to Franks. Job or no job, he wouldn't bow his 

The girl at the reception desk answered the summons 
of a well-mannered buzzer. " Mr. Franks will see you 
now," she said. 

Hollis got up and walked stiffly through the door, 
treading uneasily on thick, soft carpets. Inside, seated 
behind a giant modernistic desk sat Jason D. Franks, 
his well-groomed white head bent over some papers. 

Hollis stood in front of the desk, momentarily awed 
at the magnificence of this managerial sanctum. It was 
not gaudy, but the very simplicity of the place seemed 
to shout wealth and power. 

Franks looked up from his papers. He stood up and 
offered his hand to Hollis, smiling. 

" Sit down," he said, pointing to a chair. He opened 
a sleek box. "Cigar?" 

" No thank you." 

Franks opened another box. " Cigarette, perhaps ? " 

*' No, sir, I don't smoke." 

Franks selected a cigar. " Nasty habit," he said, 
lighting a cigar. He leaned back and looked at Hollis 
through a cloud of blue smoke. 

*' You're thinner, Hollis," he said. "Paler too. 
Big-city temptations — hard to resist, aren't they, Hol- 

^ 195 ^ 

lis ? But then you're only young once, and youth won't 
be denied." 

'' There isn't much sunlight on the assembly line," 
said Hollis, putting an end to that line of conversation. 
He was still worrying about that union meeting. If all 
Franks wanted to do was chat, that could be put off, and 
he could still get to the meeting. If there was anything 
important on Franks's mind, he hoped they would soon 
get down to business. 

Franks seemed to read Hollis' mind. He cleared his 
throat and asked, " I suppose you wonder why I called 
you in?" 

Hollis nodded silently. 

Franks scanned a sheet of paper for a moment. " I 
understand the union is trying to expel you," he said 
suddenly, looking straight at Hollis. 

Every fiber of Hollis' being went on guard. " You 
know a great deal about me," he said without emotion. 
" I didn't know Vanguard was interested in my personal 

Franks smiled. " It's not just you, Hollis. A com- 
pany the size of ours cannot afford to disregard the ac- 
tivities of its employees. It is vital that we know what 
they are thinking and doing. Don't you agree? " He 
looked at Hollis questioningly. 

What was he driving at? Hollis wondered. Why 
didn't he come to the point? 

Franks said, *' I understand you are accused of work- 
ing in the interests of the company and against the 


" That's the charge," said Hollis. 

*' Is It true?" 

*' Would you like to make it come true? " 

Hollls flushed angrily. " Are you suggesting I be- 
come a company spy? " he demanded, forgetting that 
Franks held supreme power over his job. 

" * Spy ' is a harsh word," said Franks softly. " Let 
us say your function would be to present the company's 
point of view to the men. It's no more than fair that 
they should hear our point of view." 

The resentment that had been boiling inside Hollls 
finally boiled over. Resentment against the company, 
the union, his change In jobs, and the way things were 
run in general. For all he knew he had already been 
kicked out of the union. What matter if he also had 
the company against him? At least he could get a few 
things off his chest. 

*' I'm sick and tired of hearing about sides," Hollls 
bawled out stridently. 

Franks held up his hands in a gesture that demanded 
silence. " Gently, gently," he said. " There's no rea- 

son to raise our voices." 

" There's good reason," said Hollls forcefully. 
" The trouble with you is that you sit in this fine quiet 
office all day long and don't even know what's going on 
under your very nose." 

Franks drew his heavy eyebrows together. '' I don't 
relish being talked to like this In my office," he warned 
sharply, banging the desk with his fist. 

"You called me here," said Hollls, his voice tense 
with emotion. " And while I'm here you'll listen. If 

^ 197^ 

you're thinking of firing me, I quit. If you're going to 
have me thrown out, go ahead and ring for your thugs. 
I'll have time to say a few things before they get here." 

To Hollis' surprise, Franks did neither. Instead, he 
leaned back In his leather-padded swivel chair and 

" All right, Hollis. If you're that determined, go 
ahead and talk. What have you got to say? " 

It was HoUis' big chance. A chance he had often 
dreamed about, but never thought would ever happen. 
Man to man, he would be able to talk to Franks, to ex- 
plain the union, perhaps — 

" Mr. Franks," Hollis said seriously and directly, " I 
think you and Vanguard have the wrong idea about the 


" That's a complimentary start," said Franks wryly. 

" It Isn't the kind of thing that can be handled by 
spies," said Hollis. 

*' They serve their purpose," said Franks. " If it 
weren't for the outside agitators and radicals we 
wouldn't need spies or the VSP. But fire has to be 
fought with fire. This is no tea party, MacEachron." 

" I know," said Hollis wearily. " It's war. That's 
exactly what Latrim says." 

*' The union leader? " 

" Yes." 

" You see," said Franks triumphantly. " We can't 
afford to have a man like that control the workers in 
our plant. He's out to wreck us. Paralyze our plant 
with strikes, and bring us to our knees. We won't take 
that without a fight." 


" Latrim isn't the union," said Hollis. " The union 
isn't made up of outsiders, agitators, or radicals. It's 
made up of the thousands of men who work right here at 
Vanguard. They're good, honest men who are asking 
for a chance to be heard. Why shouldn't they be organ- 
ized ? Everything else around here is. The factory ma- 
chinery is organized, production is organized, the own- 
ers are organized. Why shouldn't the workers be 
organized? " 

" I met with a committee yesterday," said Franks. 
" They represented your department. They wanted 
certain changes made. They didn't come here to dis- 
cuss those changes. They demanded them. When I 
explained that they couldn't be made at this time owing 
to war conditions, they threatened the company with a 
strike. Hollis, I can't deal with any organization that 
does that. The law says I have to meet with them. It 
doesn't say I have to give in to their threats." 

Hollis spent the next few minutes explaining the dif- 
ference between good unionism and that represented by 
Latrim. He pointed out that the committee Franks 
had dealt with were Latrim men. " We're trying to 
clean them out./' said Hollis. " That's why they're out 
to get me." 

*' Our negotiating committee is to meet with one from 
the union," said Franks, " to discuss matters affecting 
the thousands of workers in our plant. If the experi- 
ences I have had are any indication of the way the union 
operates, I don't think we'll get very far." 

" Vanguard hasn't got the cleanest hands in the 
world I" said Hollis sharply. ''The whole company 

spy system, for instance. And this business of stirring 
up race hatred in order to prevent the men from organ- 
izing. Maybe if Vanguard doesn't try to act so high 
and mighty, the union will be easier to get along with. 
I've heard about Roy Walters, although I've never met 
him. From what I know, you'll be able to talk to him. 
And he'll talk to Vanguard, in spite of the fact that the 
last time he was at the plant he was beaten up by the 

" I'm all for labor peace," said Franks. '' Since the 
war, the Government has been putting pressure on us 
to get these matters settled. I think our committee will 
be in a good frame of mind, Hollis, as long as there 
isn't any trouble. If we have flare-ups now, they'll be 
pretty tough for the union to bargain with." 

** There won't be any trouble," said Hollis. " After 
all, we want this war to be won quickly. We know 
we've got a big responsibility. But one of the things 
we're fighting for is a better deal for the little guys. 
We know what to expect if we lose. There won't be 
any trouble." 

" Good," said Franks. " After all, Hollis, I work 
for Vanguard, just as you do, even if I have a big name 
and a big salary. They can get rid of me whenever they 
want to. My job is to carry out company policy, not 
make it. That isn't always easy. But if we pull to- 
gether, I don't see any reason why we can't get together 
with the union and settle the whole question peace- 

HoUis got up and went to the door. He opened his 
mouth to say good-by, when the phone rang. Franks 

^ 200 ^ 

walked back to his desk and picked It up. As he listened, 
his face became grim. He hung up and turned to Hol- 
lis. '* Your local/' he said harshly, *' has just voted to 
call a strike for Monday morning." 

Hollls was stunned. His dream came crashing down 
over his head like the blow of a club. Strike I Of all 
the fool things. Just at the most delicate time, when 
the larger Issues depended on smooth relationships for 
a few weeks. 

Franks stood at his desk. ** I don't know how true 
that report is," he said. *' The caller didn't identify 

Hollls went out without answering. It was true, all 
right. What other reason could there be for Latrim 
to call a special meeting at which only his own followers 
would be present. But why would he call a strike? 
Even Latrim, vicious and stupid as he was, must cer- 
tainly realize that a strike would be disastrous. Not 
only would it hurt the men involved, but it would dis- 
credit every union man in the country. It would arouse 
public anger against the unions, and even bring down a 
certain amount of Government wrath. 

Hollls almost ran home. When he got there, Jerry 
was already In the front room, his face a mask of 

*' Is it true ? " Hollls burst out. 

Jerry nodded. " How'd you know? " 

*' Somebody called Franks while I was still in his 

" We couldn't do a thing," said Jerry. " It was so 
packed we weren't even able to get the floor to argue 

^ 201 ^ 

against it. Eritt and Latrim led the hue and cry. Said 
Franks had thrown them out of his office without lis- 
tening to their demands. It wasn^t hard for them to 
get a strike vote." 

" But, Jerry," said Hollis excitedly, " Vanguard has 
already named a negotiating committee to meet with 
the top union heads on the big questions. If there is 
trouble now, it will spoil every chance for getting the 
important changes we've been working for." 

Jerry sighed. *' What can we do, Hollis? " he asked 
helplessly. *' The strike is set. No matter what hap- 
pens, there'll be trouble." 

" Did they have a majority of the men there? " 

" Enough to make a quorum," said Jerry. 

Hollis grasped his arm. " Listen, Jerry, we've still 
got time to work. I'm going over to see Freddy Brown. 
As president of the local, he can call a meeting. It 
might be a bit irregular, but we've got to take that 
chance. We'll call a full meeting for tomorrow night 
and then try to get that vote reversed." 

Jerry was up and out of his chair. "You crazy 
farmer," he said happily. " You might just have the 
luck to do it. I'll get going right now to line up the 
men. I know where I can find Gabby, and we can see 
half the local members tonight." 

Jerry was out of the house before he was through 
speaking, racing down the street to find Gabby and start 
the wheels rolling that might stop the disaster that 
loomed. Hollis set off to visit Freddy Brown, walking 
as fast as his long legs would carry him. If they could 
only get enough votes to reverse the strike vote, Latrim 

^ 202 ^ 

and his followers would not be taking a legal strike ac- 
tion. If they went ahead with their strike, the union 
could point to them as outlaw strikers, and the trouble 
would not hurt the union too much. It was the only 
chance, Hollis knew. 

He leaped up the steps of Freddy's house and pounded 
at the door. Freddy answered it. He must also have 
heard about the strike vote, for his face was taut with 

He listened in silence while Hollis told about his pro- 
posed plan. " I'm with you," he said tersely. " It's an 
awful mess, Hollis. Worse than you realize." 

"How's that?" 

" Somehow," said Freddy, ** the VSP learned about 
the strike even before the meeting. Their men have 
been in this neighborhood all day, recruiting men to go 
through the picket line." 

"Did they get any?" 

" Why shouldn't they? " Freddy cried in a tormented 
voice. " There are plenty of our people who haven't 
worked for a long time. They'd do anything for a job. 
Besides, they're still resentful about the riot, and they 
figure this is one way to get revenge." Freddy was 
despairing. " This makes the whole question of Ne- 
groes' getting jobs a big bomb that's going to explode 
right in our faces." 

" This is awful," said Hollis hoarsely. 

" It's murder," said Freddy, clenching his powerful 
hands. *' Union fighting the company. Whites fighting 
blacks. Before it's over every house in this section will 
be burned to the ground." 


" Why Is Latrim doing this? " Hollis almost beat 
his fists against the wall in helpless despair. 

" Power," replied Freddy. " He can fool enough 
men into following him to make him powerful. The 
bigger the smashup of things as they are now, the more 
pieces he'll pick up." 

" We've got to reverse that strike vote tomorrow," 
said Hollis. "We've got to!" 

" We can try," said Freddy huskily. " If we don't, 
Motor City will be the bloodiest battleground this 
country's seen for a long time. I'm startin' out now, 
HoUis. We don't have any time to lose." 

They went out together. In the street Hollis saw 
Negro families already preparing to flee the wrath of 
the mob. The first winds of terror were already sweep- 
ing down the dirty streets, whispering violence at every 

Hollis hesitated a moment. Then, deliberately and 
alone, he set off In the direction of the park. It was 
black night now, and the chlllness of fall was in the air, 
bleak and raw. 

As Hollis strode toward the scene of the mob meet- 
ing, his heart was sick. So many things depended on 
their being able to reverse the strike vote. If the strike 
went on, the cause of the union was shattered. Plus 
that, there would be a renewal of race warfare. The 
result of the whole thing would be a flare-up of hatreds 
on every side. Suspicion and fighting would take over 
in Motor City. Production would inevitably fall off, 
with the result that the sinews of war would not 


be available to support the men who are doing the 
fighting. And at home, unity would be struck a mortal 

It would be like a pebble cast in the water. The rip- 
ples would go farther and farther out in an ever-widen- 
ing ring. The effect of what happened in Motor City- 
would be felt in every home. Races would hate each 
other more, the fight between unions and employers 
would take on an uglier cast, and the Government, its 
hands full with the conduct of the war, would have to 
take out valuable time to try to unite its fighting citizens. 

And Hollis, walking now toward the scene of the 
meeting, seemed to be the only one who had the power 
to stop that ill-advised strike. If the men could be got- 
ten together, he had his chance. Despite the fact that 
he was tainted with a company brush, despite suspicions 
of his motives, he would have to face the men of his 
union and try to show them the folly of the strike. 

By rights, Hollis felt, he should avoid this mob meet- 
ing. It would be bad if he was recognized again. It 
might be the spark that would set off the trouble. Yet, 
the fact that Latrim might be there pulled him in closer. 

Hollis eased his way through the shadows. As at the 
last meeting, there was a big effigy of a Negro soaked 
with kerosene to be burned. But there was less other 
light tonight. Street lamps had been broken, and the 
park was plunged in utter blackness. 

Hollis felt, rather than saw, the mob. Where he 
pushed his way along in the cover of the darkness, men 
were standing tightly packed. The glow of cigarettes 

^ 205 ^ 

and the occasional flare of a carefully shielded match 
waved here and there, as though little fireflies were 
hovering by. 

There must have been thousands present, standing 
grimly in the darkness, waiting for a different kind of 
spark to set fire to their hatreds. The mob stood mut- 
tering and irritable, ready to be convinced that Negroes 
should not have jobs, eager to be convinced. 

Only one thing was different. Instead of a few po- 
lice, there was a strong force on hand. Hollis saw the 
police cars parked a little way from the outer fringes of 
the mob. Lights from the cars glinted on badges and 
riot guns. The police were nervous too, knowing that 
once a mob gets out of hand, it goes wild. Although 
the police were there In force, their forces were puny 
compared to the size of the mob. 

But the sting of public criticism had forced the city 
officials into action, and the police were determined that 
there would be no repetition of the former riot. Husky 
police officers paced back and forth like nervous lions 
in a cage, ready to spring at the first sign of trouble. 

Hollis skirted the edge of the crowd. Now, if he 
had to flee, he could run toward the protection of the 
police, rather than lead the mob into the Negro section. 

The formless rumbling of the mob increased as men 
grew touchy and nerves became raw from the inaction. 
Isolated cries for action rose shrilly above the hidden 
thunder of many low voices. 

Then a speaker was heard. His voice came from the 
direction of the effigy, which still swung in the darkness, 
its outlines etched by the faint glow of the moon. Just 

^ 206 ^ 

as at the previous meeting, the speech was bursting with 
venom. When the first speaker stopped, others came 
forward to thunder against the evils of unionism, for- 
eigners, Negroes, and radicals. They knew their work 
well, and soon the crowd was whipped toward the ex- 
cited frenzy that takes the place of reason. 

Hollis located the direction of the voices and began 
pushing through the crowd again. He had one object 
in mind. He wanted to find and identify Latrim. He 
wanted to stalk his man, watch him, and try to follow 
him away. 

But in the blackness Hollis was working against great 
odds. He worked through the mob like a lean needle, 
threading this way and that, as he tried to locate the 
source of the speakers. 

Then Hollis realized the speakers were in different 
parts of the park. It was hard to get his directions 
straight. Hollis paused, in the middle of the mob, not 
knowing which way to turn. With caution as his guide, 
Hollis edged back toward the police again. At any 
minute a match might flare up to expose his features to 
some enemy. He was beginning to attract a little at- 
tention by his moving around, because he jostled people 
every time he moved. 

If only he could find Latrim. If only he could catch 
Latrim while he was speaking, or with some of the 
speakers. If he could do that, Latrim would be ex- 
posed. He would certainly be expelled from the union, 
and that would break his power. 

On the other hand, to unmask Latrim would compli- 
cate matters. He was identified with the union. To 

ir 207 ^ 

identify him also with the agitation against Negroes 
would throw some blame on the union, and innocent 
union men would suffer. Hollis thought about that, 
but even that did not deter him. The innocent might 
suffer for a while, but if Latrim was allowed to keep on, 
there would be much more suffering by many more in- 
nocent, and the guilty would be escaping altogether. 

Hollis stopped. Latrim's voice? He listened in- 
tently. He was certain he had heard Latrim. A few 
muffled words followed by a laugh were all he had to 
go on. But they were his only clue. Hollis turned and 
wormed his way toward that spot. It was toward the 
police. That was good. 

Hollis pushed through faster. He bumped into a 
man, his knee hitting something hard and knocking it to 
the ground. 

" Easy, will you? " a voice complained. 

" Sorry," said Hollis softly. He bent down to pick 
up what he had hit. His hands closed on a boxlike af- 
fair. His heart quickened. It was a camera. He 
handed it back to the owner. 

*' Newspaper photographer?" He whispered the 
question in the man's ear. 

He felt a warning hand grip him. " Don't say the 
nasty words. Want me to get mobbed ? " 

" Follow me," Hollis whispered. " And get your 
camera ready. I may have something for you." 

The photographer fell in behind him, hiding his cam- 

Hollis maneuvered himself into the clear. The pho- 
tographer stopped him. " What's up? '* 

^ 208 ^ 

" I think I can spot one of the ringleaders," said Hol- 
lis. *' If I grab him, can you get his picture ? It's front- 
page stuff." 

" If youVe crazy enough to do it, Fm crazy enough 
to shoot it. But maybe we ought to get a couple of cops 


" That would scare him away. They'll come fast 
enough — I hope." 

" Who's the guy you're after? '* 

"You'll see. Ready?" 

" If you are." 

*' O. K." Hollis eased himself forward toward the 
spot where he had last heard Latrim's voice. He got 
down close to the ground, so that the men would be out- 
lined against the faint Hght of the moon. A quick dash 
when he saw his man, a picture — and the police, in 
time to save his life. If the police didn't get through in 
time — Hollis shook that thought from his mind. 

He crouched down, waiting his chance. Then he saw 
the outline he was waiting for. He saw the heavy head, 
the thickset shoulders. For a moment they were 

Hollis dug his toes in the ground and raced toward 
the figure. His speed attracted immediate attention. 
There were startled cries of alarm and warning. But 
Hollis raced onward, without swerving. Hollis' victim 
saw him loom up in the darkness. With a squawk of 
alarm he turned and tried to escape. He stumbled, and 
Hollis was on him in a flash, grasping him by the shoul- 
ders and swinging him around. 

The camera flashed blue lightning in the night. For 
^ 209 ^ 

a moment the entire scene was exposed to the bright 
light. In that fraction of a second HoUis' exultation 
changed to shocked surprise and despair. The man he 
held was not Latrim I It was, as far as he could see, a 
complete stranger. 

Before he could recover from his shock, Hollls was at 
the bottom of a heap of struggling men. Blows and 
kicks beat at him in a rough hail. Hollis tried to curl up 
in a protective ball and roll away. 

He heard the shrill of police whistles and the roar of 
many people. Something landed close by and began 
giving off a thick cloud of smoke. The crowd fell back 
from the sputtering tear-gas bomb, leaving an avenue 
for the police to rush through and pull away at the pile 
of men on Hollis. 

Hollis felt himself yanked to his feet. He was 
bruised and dazed, hardly feeling himself being hustled 
off to the patrol wagon. He was pushed in and the 
doors slammed shut. He heard a policeman say, " Put 
the others in the other wagon or they'll tear each other 

Riding in solitary batteredness, Hollis was whirled 
through the streets of Motor City. At the city jail he 
was hustled up the steps, quickly booked, and led to a 

It was only when the steel doors clanged behind him 
that he first realized how serious his situation was. The 
union meeting was scheduled for the next afternoon. 
And at the moment of great decision, HolHs MacEach- 
ron would be sitting by himself in jail, watching his 
world crumble into a violent dust. 

^ 210^ 

Hollis sat with his head in his hands, bemoaning his 
rash action. He ached all over, but the physical ache 
was as nothing compared to the hurt deep inside him. 
He had spoiled any chance of exposing Latrim in time 

^211 ^ 


He felt the disgrace of arrest too keenly to call any of 
his friends to bail him out. He wasn't interested in the 
charge or what would be done with him. All he knew 
was that he had left the field open for Latrim, and that 
he was powerless to help to stop the strike. 

He was surprised in the morning when he was awak- 
ened by a guard to find Jerry and Gabby on hand to visit 
him. Hollis was ashamed to face them. 

Jerry sat on the bunk while Gabby sat on the floor in 
a corner. 

" Man I " said Gabby. '' I never thought I'd be walk- 
ing into a jail because I wanted to. Every time they close 
a door I get nervous." 

Hollis smiled. '* I didn't exactly plan on ending up 
here myself." 

" Seen the paper this morning? " Jerry asked, hold- 
ing out a copy. 

Hollis took it. On the front page a big picture 
showed him strugghng with the rioter. Hollis saw 
himself surrounded by burly figures. Just behind 

him one of the men was swinging at him with a short 

" Who'd I catch? " Hollls asked. 

"AVSPman. And that club Identifies another. Boy, 
youVe sure busted that organization wide open. You've 
put the finger right on Vanguard." 

" Yeah," added Gabby. " Just try and hold up that 
strike now." 

Hollls put down the paper. " What about our meet- 
ing this afternoon? " 

*' It's being held. Be jammed too. Latrim will have 
his outfit there. Besides, what happened with you last 
night will pull every member to the meeting." 

*' Every member but me," said Hollls. 

"What's your bail?" 

" I don't know. It doesn't matter. I couldn't meet it 

Jerry stood up. " Maybe we can. Come on, Gabby. 
If we haven't got enough, we'll collect it. Don't worry, 
Hollls, we'll have you out of here in time for the 

" See you later," said Gabby. 

Hollls waved a farewell. When they were gone he 
read the newspaper. It was full of ominous news. The 
war, the strike, the racial trouble — all took up a big 
share of the news. No matter how HoUis looked at it, 
heavy trouble seemed Imminent. 

About an hour later Hollls had another visitor. The 
door of his cell swung open to admit Jason D. Franks. 
Hollls stared in silent surprise at his visitor. As soon 
as they were alone, Franks began questioning Hollls. 

" What happened last night? I can't make head or 
tail of the newspaper accounts. All I know is that you 
tangled with the rioters, and the man you attacked be- 
longs to the VSP. Right?" 

" That's about it," said Hollis. " I made a mistake. 
I thought it was Latrim." 

*' Latrim? " Franks was startled. 

Hollis told him about hearing Latrim speak at the 
first meeting. " I was positive this fellow was Latrim," 
said Hollis. " I thought by exposing him I could dis- 
credit him with the union, and stop the strike. But it 
didn't work. Now the men are madder than ever at the 
VSP, and want to strike more than before." 

" What do you plan to do ? " Franks asked bluntly. 

" Some of my friends are trying to raise enough money 
to bail me out," said Hollis. '' Then I'll go to the 

"We can't wait for that," said Franks. " I'll bail 
you out now." 

" Thanks," said Hollis. " I hope you didn't come 
down here just to help iiie." 

"And why not?" Franks demanded. "You've 
got work to do." He called the guard to lead them 

Hollis took a chair while Franks saw to the bail. He 
was almost through when the VSP man Hollis had at- 
tacked was led into the room, accompanied by his law- 
yer, a natty individual with a bulging brief case and a 
quick, aggressive manner. 

The lawyer leaped forward eagerly when he saw 
Franks. " Ah, Mr. Franks, I'm glad to see you here. 

^ 215 ^ 

IVe already preferred the usual charges against this 

*' What hoodlum?" 

The lawyer pointed at Hollis. He felt it was his mo- 
ment to make a good impression on Franks. It might, 
he felt, lead to a better job with Vanguard. The law- 
yer struck a dramatic pose and leveled his finger at 

" Such dastardly attacks on innocent people will not 
be countenanced," he thundered. " The might of Van- 
guard Motors will be brought in to see that justice is 
rendered. You will suffer for your cowardly act, you 

" Just a minute," said Franks coldly. " I'll thank 
you not to connect the name of Vanguard Motors with 
this person." Franks indicated the burly figure of the 
VSP man. 

"But Mr. Franks I" gasped the lawyer. "I'm 
afraid you do not understand. My client is a member of 
the VSP. I am retained by them — " 

" He's fired," said Franks brusquely. " And so are 
you. Present your bill to the company." 

The lawyer began to sputter. " But the VSP — " 

" I won't have such men in my employ! " thundered 
Franks. " I'm getting to the bottom of this, and when 
I'm through every man involved in this mess will be 

Franks turned on the VSP man. " Who's behind 

The VSP man quailed before Franks's piercing gaze. 
" We was all supposed to help," he muttered. " It was 

company policy. It was so we could keep the workin* 
stiffs fightin'." 

*' Were there any labor men In with you? " 

The VSP man's eyes narrowed cunningly. " I don't 
know. Most of the men were strangers to me." 

Franks could see it was fruitless to question the man 
further. He was only a tool of higher-ups. Franks de- 
cided to see those In charge. 

" I'm going back to my office," he said to Hollls. 
*' I'm going to have a session with the VSP leaders. I 
don't know of a better time to cut the rottenness out of 
our organization. You attend your meeting and do 
what you can." 

Franks walked out of the room, brisk and determined. 

Hollls looked questionlngly at the magistrate. " You 
can go, MacEachron. Your bail's taken care of." 

The magistrate turned to the lawyer. " Are you pre- 
pared to bail out your client? " 

"I — that is — " 

" Lock him up again," said the magistrate wearily. 

Hollis came home to find Jerry and Gabby carefully 
counting a large stack of bills. Gabby looked up briefly 
as HolHs came in. *' Got any money?" he asked. 
" We're trying to get enough to — Hey, how did you 
get out?'' 

*' Franks came down and bailed me out," said Hollls. 
" So I could get to the meeting this afternoon." 

Jerry whistled. "Will wonders never cease? We 
didn't think we'd be able to get enough." 

" Franks fired the VSP man," said Hollis. " Looks 
as though we're getting a break there." 

*' You don't know strike fever," said Jerry. " Once 
it gets started, it's hard to stop." 

"How much does Latrim know about all this?" 
Gabby asked. 

" I don't know," said HolIIs. " But I'm pretty sure 
of one thing. If he was mixed up with the mob, he also 
had some ties with the VSP. By now that shyster law- 
yer has called him and told him everything. He'll be at 
the meeting with plenty of ammunition." 

" Frankly," said Jerry, *' it will be hard to explain 
why Franks bailed you out. You should have let the 
union do it." 

" But I couldn't wait. For all I knew you wouldn't 
be able to raise the money. Anyway, it just happens 
that Franks doesn't want a strike any more than we do." 

" Just because it's true doesn't make it sound any bet- 
ter," Jerry warned. " Right now anything the company 
does is poison to a lot of union men." 

" We'll worry about that later," said Hollis. " All I 
know is that if the strike goes through, we'll lose all the 
big things we've been fighting for. Walters and his 
plans will be doomed." 

" I wish Walters would come to the meeting," said 
Gabby. " We should have let him know. If he backed 
you up, nobody would dare question his honesty and 
that would help you." 

"Well, he isn't here," replied Hollis. "And we'll 
just have to do it without him. Let's go." 

The hall was almost filled when Hollis arrived with 
Jerry and Gabby. There were two entrances to the hall. 
One at the front, at the side of the platform, and the 

other at the back of the hall. Hollis went in the back 
way, taking a seat in the rear row. 

A number of men saw him come in and shouted to 
him. Most of the shouts were cries of backing and 

" There^s the battler in person." 

"O you wildcat I" 

" How'd you get out of jail, Hollis? " 

Hollis smiled at those who shouted at him. He was 
beginning to feel more confident about the outcome of 
the meeting. As yet there was no sign of Latrim, Eritt, 
or any of that faction. For a while HolHs nursed the 
hope that they would not come. 

Finally Freddy Brown went up front and rapped with 
his gavel. The men were silent. Freddy spoke simply 
and to the point. 

" You all know why we're here," he said seriously. 
" We've had a fast one pulled on us, and we find our- 
selves bound by a strike vote. We can reverse that 
vote. We've got to." 

Before Freddy could go any further there was the 
sound of many feet marching up the stairs. Every eye 
turned toward the back door. Headed by Latrim, a 
steady stream of men poured into the room, quickly fill- 
ing up the seats and jamming in close to take up all the 
standing room. They came in noisily, stomping their 
feet and talking loudly. 

It was a display of strength and power that had its 
effect. The mass entrance made it seem as though La- 
trim was followed by every worker in the Vanguard 
plant. The noise of their feet drowned out the sound 

of Freddy's voice. He was forced to yield to the Inter- 
ruption, and that made the interruption seem more im- 
portant than ever. 

Finally, Freddy was able to resume his speaking. 
" At this time,'' he said, " I want to turn the floor over 
to Brother MacEachron, to present a few facts about 

our situation." 

Hollls rose and walked to the front of the hall. He 
was suffering from a sudden and severe case of stage 
fright. His tongue seemed to be stuck to the roof of his 
mouth, and there was a loud roaring in his ears. 

The roar finally divided Into two parts. A roar of 
encouragement from his friends, and a roar of derision 
from Latrim's faction. As Hollis stood on the plat- 
form waiting to speak, each side tried to shout down 
the other, and the result was a terrifying bedlam of 

Freddy pounded with his gavel until the noise qui- 
eted, subsiding to an occasional shout or jeer. Then 
HolHs began to speak. 

In that moment, his stage fright fell away. He was 
conscious only of the importance of what he had to say. 
He hardly heard his own words, and he didn't have to 
stop and think about what to say. It was all there in his 
head crying for expression. 

In the slow accents of his country speech, Hollls pre- 
sented his argument. He pointed out how the strike 
would rebound upon the heads of the union men. How 
it would be seized upon by all the enemies of labor as an 
excuse to crack down on labor. 

He showed how the race question entered. How the 

strike would cause a flare-up between whites and blacks 
at a time when the whole world looked to America for 
unity in the war between the worlds. 

The men listened in silence, impressed by the logic of 
his arguments. Hollls told again how he had been hired 
by Franks. He told how Franks had called him in to 
offer him a job as company spy, and how he had turned 
it down. Further, he pleaded with them to believe 
that Franks and the management would make an hon- 
est effort to settle the questions which the union was 
bringing up. 

When Hollls finished, he sat down on a chair on 
the platform. He was greeted again by a mixed chorus 
of cheers and boos. At the end, Latrim was on his feet, 
his bull voice and commanding figure demanding and 
getting the attention of all the men in the hall. 

Calling for the floor from the back of the hall, Latrim 
strode forward, speaking as he walked, his voice boom- 
ing to every corner. 

"Who bailed you out of jail?" he demanded of 

" Jason Franks," shouted Hollls angrily, jumping to 
his feet. 

Latrim swung around to face the union members. 
*'Yes, Jason Franks," he trumpeted. "And why? 
Why, Brothers, would Jason Franks make a personal 
visit to the jail in order to bail out a union man who has 
assaulted a member of the VSP? Have you ever heard 
of that happening before? " 

His question was met by silence from Hollis* sup- 
porters and a great outcry from his enemies. 

^221 ^ 

" Franks bailed him out because Hollls MacEachron 
is working for Franks I " bawled Latrim. " He had to 
make sure that MacEachron was here at this meeting 
to break up the strike. 

" We called a strike at a regular meeting. Now, this 
company stooge tries to break up the lawful decisions of 
the union by calling a meeting behind our backs. Is that 
the way for a good union brother to act? That whole 
VSP incident last night was deliberately planned by 
Vanguard in order to build up MacEachron. Only it 
didn't work, and they had to bail him out and expose 
their hand. 

" Ever since MacEachron came into our union, he's 
been preaching for us to give in to the company. Now 
he wants us to give up a strike because he says ' big ne- 
gotiations ' are coming up. How does he know? Mr. 
Franks told him. And why did Franks tell him? So he 
could tell us, and keep us from striking. I don't know 
how it is to you, but it seems pretty funny to me that a 
sweeper should be on such intimate terms with Jason 

Every point Latrim made against Hollis was noisily 
supported by Latrim's followers. They made so much 
din it seemed that every man in the hall was on his 
side. And it was true that he struck telling blows at 

To union men, accustomed to being hounded by the 
VSP, it was indeed strange that Hollis should be on 
such close terms with Franks. Despite themselves, the 
men friendly to Hollis began to suspect him. They were 
uneasy, not knowing which way to turn — and the heavy 


support Latrim was receiving finally swung them around 
to support him. 

When Latrim finished his first attack, Hollis rose to 
defend himself. The noise was too great for him to say 
a word. Freddy banged with his gavel, but it wasn't 
even heard. The roar was going against Hollis. 

Suddenly, from the back of the hall, someone hurled 
a tomato at Hollis. It sailed through the air and hit 
him on the shoulder. This was the signal for a con- 
certed barrage of fruit and vegetables. 

Hollis stood erect, facing his audience. Eggs, toma- 
toes, rotten apples — they threw everything at him. 
He was struck on the body and in the face, but he kept 

The beginnings of physical action against Hollis 
swung away most of his support. There was something 
contagious in the attack on him. Men who had believed 
him a moment before now joined the attack to cry in- 
sults at him and brandish their fists. New jets of hatred 
hissed out at Hollis with every passing minute. 

A half brick hurled through the air narrowly missed 
Hollis and crashed against the wall behind him. Hol- 
lis paled. It was getting more serious. He saw La- 
trim's game. Latrim himself was having none of it. 
Safely out of range, he held his cigar clamped between 
his teeth and watched his triumph. 

Another brick sailed past Hollis' head. Some of the 
men in the background started moving forward, inciting 
the crowd to violence. 

"Lynch him 1" 

** Get that spy I" 


** Don't let him get away! " 

" Teach the dirty stoolie a lesson! " 

The crowd surged forward. Freddy shouted to Hol- 
lis:"Run, Hollls! Run!" 

Hollls hesitated a moment. Run from his own union 
brothers? Run like a thief? He threw up his hands. 
" Listen to me I " he howled at the top of his lungs. 

His words weren't heard. Someone threw a folding 
chair at him. It hit Hollis on the thigh, almost knock- 
ing him off balance. As he stumbled, the roar of the 
angry crowd swelled louder as the men rushed in to 
capture their wounded quarry. 

HolHs hesitated no longer. He sprinted for the door 
near the platform and ran out into the hall. He turned 
and raced down the long corridor. Behind, the men 
stopped at the door, contenting themselves with hurling 
objects at him and shouting ribald taunts. 

Hollis limped downstairs. His clothes were cov- 
ered with egg and stains left by rotted vegetables. His 
leg ached where it had been hit by the chair. He wiped 
a streak of tomato from his face. He felt tears of de- 
spair coming into his eyes. 

He stopped and tried to straighten himself up a little, 
but he was too discouraged to do much. He walked to- 
ward the exit, his head bent. 

" Hollis, what happened? " 

Hollis looked up as he heard the shocked words. 
Jason Franks stood before him, accompanied by a stran- 
ger who looked vaguely familiar to Hollis. 

Hollis shrugged and gave a short, bitter laugh. 
** This is the union's answer." 

" Oh, It IS, eh? " said Franks, a dangerous light in his 
steely eyes. " We'll see about that." He started for 
the stairs. 

HoUis reached out and caught his arm. *' Don't go 
up there," he warned. " Latrim's got them all keyed 
up. It isn't safe." 

" Nonsense," said Franks. " Vm not afraid of the 
men who work for me. Come on, Walters." 

Hollis stared at Franks's companion. Walters — 
Roy Walters, the stocky, bespectacled head of the 
GEIU, who looked like a husky college professor. 
Walters — with Franks I 

" The boy may be right," said Walters. *' But I'll go 
first. If they'll listen to reason, you can come in." 

Walters started forward. Franks fell in behind him, 
and Hollis kept step. 

" Maybe you shouldn't go, Hollis," said Franks, 
" They seem to be awfully angry with you." 

'' I'll go," said Hollis. " I shouldn't have run in the 
first place. I've nothing to be ashamed of." 

*' I thought this might happen," Franks said to Hol- 
lis as the three went up the stairs. " I didn't know what 
to do to help you out, so I called Walters and asked him 
to come down here with me." 

" We came as quickly as we could," Walters said. 
" I'm sorry we didn't get here earlier." 

" What made you think there'd be trouble? " Hollis 
asked Franks. 

" The lawyer I fired. I figured that if Latrim was 
hooked up in any way with the VSP, the lawyer would 
be quick to let him know I bailed you out." 

-^225 ^ 

They reached the top corridor. They could hear La- 
trim's powerful voice inciting the men to direct action. 
Franks stopped in his tracks. " That's the man," he 
said, his lips tight. " That's he." 


"The anonymous caller who told me a strike had 
been called." Franks's voice was grim. " The scoun- 
drel. First calling a strike and then seeing that I knew 
in time to get the VSP ready. He was making sure 
we'd have trouble, all right." 

They reached the door of the auditorium. Inside, 
the din was still loud and belligerent. 

Walters turned to Franks. " Still want to take a 
chance on going in? " 

Franks nodded. " Certainly." 

*' How about you, Hollis? " 

" I'm going in." 

Walters smiled. " That's the spirit. Follow me." 

Walters opened the door and walked in quickly, fol- 
lowed closely by Franks and Hollis. 

Their sudden appearance stunned the members of the 
local. There was an astonished silence as the three men 
walked up the platform. Latrim, aware that some- 
thing was wrong, turned to look. His face turned a 
sickly green. 

The moment of astonishment was brief. On the heels 
of the silence another tremendous roar rose to the roof. 
Men were oh their feet, shouting in an unintelligible 
mass of sound. 

Jason Franks stepped to the edge of the platform. 
The roar of the crowd became a great howling boo. 

"^ 226 '^ 

Franks tried to call for quiet, but the boos merely grew 
louder, and angrier. Cries of " Strike 1 '* were hurled 
from every corner. 

Walters stepped forward quickly. He held up his 
hands for quiet, his face angry. 

The shouting subsided at the sight of his command- 
ing figure. It faded away, and the hall was quiet — 
heavily quiet. For a long moment Walters stood mo- 
tionless, saying nothing. An equally complete silence 
took command of his audience. 

" Thanks for the ovation," Walters said dryly. 

Someone snickered. It caught on, and in a moment 
a tremendous wave of laughter swept over the men. 
Laughter brought sanity with it, and in that moment an 
angry, unreasoning mass of men became a group of in- 
dividuals, each listening for himself. 

Walters became serious again. " I won't beat about 
the bush," he said. " I want you to know at the very be- 
ginning that I and the rest of the union leaders are all 
against this ill-timed and ill-advised strike." Walters 
turned briefly to look directly at Latrim. 

" In a short time, a negotiating committee from the 
union is going to meet with a negotiating committee 
from Vanguard. At that meeting we're going to discuss 
everything — wages, overtime, seniority, production — 
everything that affects us as workers and as Americans. 

" We are asking for something that American labor 
has never had, and that is a voice in the planning of pro- 
duction. If we ever hope to get that, we've got to show 
that we are responsible, that the union is capable of dis- 
cipline and understanding. 

^ 227 ^ 

*' Also at this meeting, we're to discuss better ways 
of handling the grievances of the various departments, 
and how to do it more efficiently. 

** A strike such as you are now calling will do more 
than hold up our conference. It will tie up production. 
It will mean that the boys at the front will be left with- 
out the industrial support they need. Many of our 
union brothers are in the Army. If we do anything to 
slow down or impede production, we're signing their 
death warrant. We're asking them to sacrifice their 
lives when we won't sacrifice a few weeks to settle some 
petty complaint. We'd have to take a lot of the respon- 
sibility If the war was lost. We can't let that happen. 
We've got to reverse this strike vote. One more thing. 
The men responsible for this strike call won't be in the 
union very long. They'll get enough time to clean out 
their desks — if they're quick about it! Now, I want 
you to listen to Mr. Franks. I want you to show him 
the same courtesy you expect from the company — a 
fair hearing." 

When Franks stepped forward to speak, he was 
greeted by a round of applause and then a respectful 

" You might like to know," he began, " that the VSP 
went out of existence at noon today — " 

Franks had to wait several minutes before the joyous 
clamor subsided. ** Mr. Walters has talked to you 
about your responsibilities. True, labor has them. But 
so does industry. We've got to do our part as well. 
We've got to think more about the welfare of our work- 
ers and less about the comforts of our stockholders. 

We've got to think of our country's needs before we 
think about profits. We too have to show that we are 
responsible and can be trusted. And just between you 
and me, we haven't done any too well ourselves. 

" But the past is dead. All that counts now is the 
future. Let us hope we can work together in confidence 
and trust. And if we do, Vanguard will owe a great 
deal to the efforts of HoUis MacEachron, who has done 
much to make it possible." 

Franks pulled Hollis forward. " Say something," 
he urged. 

Hollis, still showing the effects of the recent vegeta- 
ble barrage, faced the men who had driven him away a 
short time before. 

" As I was saying a short time ago," began Hollis, 
" before I was so emphatically interrupted — " 

He was greeted with a roar of good-natured laugh- 
ter. Most of the men were feeling well ashamed of 

" I'd like," said Hollis, " to move that we vote 
against having the strike." 

" Second the motion I " shouted Jerry from some- 
where in the crowd. 

The motion was carried by a voice vote. When it 
was quiet again, HoUis said, *' That's all I want to say." 
He turned and walked away, followed by cheers and a 
few scattered boos. 

The meeting was ended. Hollis walked with Franks 
and Walters to Franks's big car, which was parked 
outside. " Let me give you both a lift," urged 

it 229 ^ 

They got in and started off toward Hollis' home. 
They rolled past the massive buildings of the Vanguard 
plant. Smoke was pouring out of the tall chimneys, and 
the air was filled with the sound of steady production. 
The great industrial giant gulped huge amounts of raw 
material, turning out a constant flow of supplies. 

Walters turned his eyes from the towering factories. 
** I have an offer to make, Hollis. Latrim is out, and we 
need someone to take his place. I can't think of any 
better man to fill that job than yourself." 

Hollis flushed with pleasure. " Me? You'd better 
think it over. After all, Fm new in this." 

" I've thought it over," said Walters. " What do 
you say? " 

" I don't know," said Hollis. ** I never thought of 
being an organizer. I'm a mechanic." 

" If you don't want Walters' job," said Franks, " I 
can give you something better than the assembly line. 
You've done us a service as well as your union. I'd like 
to reward you with a job you'd like. Where you can use 
your skill." 

Hollis shook his head tiredly. " I don't know," he 
repeated. " My mind's jumping all over. I'm not clear 
about what I ought to do." 

A whistle at the plant screamed hoarsely. Hollis 
looked up. '' Could I have some time off, Mr. Franks ? " 


" Some time off. I'd like to go back to Holden for a 
while. I can think better there. I'm all wound up in- 
side. I feel I've got to get away and think, I'm grate- 


ful for your offer — and yours too, Mr. Walters — but 
Vd like a few weeks to think them over." 

** I should say you can have a vacation," chuckled 
Franks. *' YouVe had a hectic few months since you 
left Iowa. How much? Two weeks?" 

" If that would be all right." 

"It^s yours." 

Hollis got out of the car. " FU let you know as soon 
as I decide," he said. '' And I'd like to thank you both 
for your offers." 

Hollis shut the door of the car and watched it drive 
off. It turned a corner and disappeared. Hollis sighed 
and looked up at the window of his room. If he was 
going back to Holden, he'd better take his tools along. 
Pop might need some help. He hadn't looked at the 
tools for a long time. They'd need cleaning. 

Hollis went in the house and leaped up the steps three 
at a time. A few minutes later he was sitting on the 
floor, busily at work. 

He was almost through packing his clothes when 
Jerry and Gabby came in. They took one look at what 
he was doing and both grabbed him. 

** Where do you think you're going?" Jerry de- 

** Yeah," added Gabby. '* And without us." 

*' I'll be back," Hollis smiled. " I'm just going back 
to Holden for a few weeks. Walters and Franks both 
offered me jobs, and I want time to think their offers 

"Oh, brother I" said Gabby. "Let 'em offer me 

^231 ^ 

something. I could give them an answer before they 

Hollls closed his suitcase. " Do I get an official es- 
cort to the bus station? " 

Jerry grabbed the tool kit and Gabby took the suit- 
case. " On your way, MacEachron. And don't come 
back for two weeks." 

In the bus, Hollls relaxed fully for the first time since 
he had come to Motor City. He stared Idly out of the 
window while the bus moved through the city, past the 
industrial outskirts, and Into the country. 

In an hour Motor City and the Vanguard Plant were 
both a dream. The bus was rolling through open, 
peaceful country, far from the sound of assembly lines, 
roaring machines, and thousands of men. The open 
fields stretched before Hollls, dotted with cattle and In- 
frequent farmhouses tucked away in the shelter of trees. 
He breathed deeply. In place of smoke and grime and 
gasoline fumes, he breathed fresh air and smelled the 
rich earth. 

Suddenly he hated Motor City. He hated the city 
and the factories and the strife. He welcomed the peace 
of the country, letting it move In and take control of 
him. He surrendered to its quietness and calm solitude. 
He thought of Holden, and longed to be there quickly. 
He felt that he would never want to leave it again. 

And then he was at Holden. The bus drew up at the 
hotel and Hollls got out. He looked around. Nothing 
had changed. The old men were still In the hotel, sit- 
ting behind the big window where It was warm. The 
houses were all still there, looking the same. Down the 

street was Pop's garage. It hadn't changed. The same 
chickens were still scratching around the same aban- 
doned wrecks of cars. 

HoUis scratched his head. Holden was exactly as It 
always had been. It slept on, never changing, never 
startled at anything, knowing little and caring less 
about what was going on outside. Where the last house 
in Holden stopped, the world stopped. What went on 
beyond the fields and over the hills wasn't of much con- 
cern. Wars and struggles and strife were all part of 
*' what the paper says," and no more. 

Hollls picked up his belongings and walked down the 
street toward the garage. 

At the entrance he heard Pop talking with a farmer. 
Hollls eased up to the door and looked In. Pop was 
standing with his hands on his hips, looking at an old 
Ford that waited for attention. The farmer stood near 
by, arms folded, watching Pop. 

" I don't know what's got into that car of yours," Pop 
said as Hollls got within hearing range. " Sure has 
been actin' up lately." 

" Can you fix 'er? " the farmer asked. 

'' Make a try," said Pop. He chuckled. " If I can't, 
it won't cost you a cent." 

" Uh huh," the farmer said unenthusiastically. 
" Say, whatever became of that boy you had workin' for 

"Went to Motor City," said Pop, picking up a 
wrench and hefting It as though he was going to start 
belaboring the Ford with it. " Got him a job In the au- 
tomobile factories." 

" I'll bet he's making the kind of money you and me 
never dreamed of," said the farmer. " I don't know 
what those fellows are always strikin' and kickin' up 
trouble about, what with the wages they get." 

" They don't get as much as some folks think," said 
Pop defensively, feeling that Hollis was being attacked. 
"And it's tough work." 

** Their high wages is what keeps us farm people 
poor," grumbled the farmer. *' Everything we buy 
costs too much." 

** I never heard anybody complain they bought some- 
thing that didn't cost them enough," said Pop. '* Ev- 
erybody likes to take it in, but none of us likes to give it 
out again." Pop straightened up. " I can't find nothin' 
wrong, but she won't run." 

Hollis stepped through the door, a big grin on his 
face. '' Want me to take a whack at it. Pop ? " 

Pop whirled, his jaw sagging. '* Hollis — I " He 
dropped his wrench and grabbed HoUis by the hand, al- 
most tearing it off. " Hollis I Why didn't you tell me 
you were coming back? " 

*' Didn't know I was coming until I was on my way. 
What's the trouble here? " 

** Same old trouble. It won't go." 

HolHs dropped his tool kit. " Give me about two 
minutes to get into my overalls, and I'll have a look at 
it. Maybe we can fix it up." 

Hollis went into the little room where he had lived 
for so many years. He heard Pop say to the farmer : 
" Just you wait. Hollis will fix 'er. He can fix any- 

^ 234 ^ 

Hollis came out eagerly and opened his tool kit. His 
hands closed around the handles of wrenches, hammers, 
and pliers. New, rushing life surged with his blood. 
He almost trembled as he approached the old car. It 
was good to be a man again, to have a job that called for 
the skill of your hands and the knowledge of your 
brain. No assembly line to speed you up. No mo- 
notonous movements to repeat a thousand times a 
day. Your own job, your own way, taking your own 

Hollis slid under the car. He reached up and rubbed 
his hands in oil and grease, getting them covered with 
the good dirt of his trade. He adjusted his light. For 
a moment as he looked down the drive shaft he won- 
dered who the man was who had used the wrench that 
tightened six nuts. 

He crawled out a few minutes later, wiping his hands 
on a piece of oily waste. " Try it now,'' he said, smiling. 
The farmer got in and started up his car. It worked 
smoothly. He smiled back. *' How much for the job ? " 
he asked Pop. 

** It's on the house," said Pop expansively. " A 
home-coming celebration." 

The farmer nodded his thanks and drove off, rattling 
down the road toward the fields. 

Pop turned and looked at Hollis again. " So you're 
back with Pop again," he said wonderingly. 

" Only for a little while. Pop," said Hollis. '' I've 
got a two-week vacation." 

Pop looked disappointed. '* I thought maybe you'd 
come back for good." 

** I don't know about that either," Hollis replied. 
" I've got a lot of thinking to do." 

Pop got out his big red bandanna and wiped his fore- 
head out of habit. " Think away," he said. " If you 
need any help. Til be glad to talk things over with you." 

*' ril wrestle with it awhile alone," said Hollis. " But 
I may need your help to get the answer pinned to the 

He worked around the little shop for the rest of the 
day, telling Pop about the things that had happened in 
Motor City. Pop listened, shaking his head, mutter- 
ing, and clucking sympathetically with his tongue. 

At the end of the day Hollis went to have his supper 
at the little restaurant where he had always eaten. It 
was roast-beef night. Afterward he walked around 
town for a bit, then returned to his little room in the 

He sat in his chair for a long time, then went slowly 
to bed, where he lay awake, trying to see his problem 
through. Then Hollis realized that he was feeling the 
same as he had felt the first night in Motor City, when 
he had slept at the Y. M. C. A. — lonely and lost. 

He missed eating with his fellow workers. He missed 
their conversation, and the discussion of union and work 
problems. He missed talking with Jerry until both fell 
asleep. He even missed the lonely roaring of the street- 
cars in the night. He missed the sound of the nation's 
heart beating — the hum and roar and clanking of the 
factories. He fell asleep in a quietness so complete 
that he wanted to shout to break it. 

For a week Hollis kept himself from thinking about 

what his future course would be. He worked with Pop, 
fixed cars, and knew that he had lost none of his old 
skill. But as his time for a decision came closer, Hollis 
spent hours trying to think the thing through. Should 
he stay in Holden with Pop ? Should he take the union 
job? the company offer? 

The more he thought about it, the more he realized 
that he had not yet decided where he belonged in the 
world. It had been simple before : go to school, be an 
engineer, get a job — success. Now it wasn^t so simple. 

He took his problem to Pop, mentioning the choice 
between the union and the company offer. 

" Both sound good," said Pop. " If you take that 
union offer, you'll probably get to be somebody pretty 
important in the labor movement, as you call it. Be 
reading all about you in the papers. On the other hand, 
if you take the company job, you've got the chance at 
being an engineer of some kind. And I'm sure if you 
did that, you'd get to be famous too. You're not like 
most other people, Hollis. You got the chance to go 

Hollis nodded absently. He returned to his work, 
letting his hands take over while his mind was busy 
matching arguments and counterarguments. That night 
he lay awake for hours. But when he finally fell asleep, 
he had his answer. 

Hollis was whistling when Pop came in the garage the 
next morning. Pop looked at him eagerly. " Made up 
your mind, Hollis? " 

HoUis nodded, still whistling. 

"Union job?" 

Hollls shook his head. 

" I figured you wouldn't take it. You need a job 
working with your hands. So the company gets you, 

Hollis shook his head, looking owlishly at Pop as he 
kept whistling. 

" Then it is the union job." 

" Nope." 

Pop advanced slowly. "Hollis — you don't mean 
you're gonna — gonna stay here — with old Pop? " 

Hollis stopped whistling. *' I'm afraid not. Pop," he 
said, hating to hurt Pop's feelings. 

Pop was puzzled. " But what will you do ? If you're 
not gonna take either of those jobs, and not stay 
here — " 

" I'm going back to the assembly line." 

" I don't understand, Hollis." 

*' Neither did I Pop, until you put me on the right 


" When you said I was different." 

*' You are different." 

" I'm not, Pop. You know, when I left Holden the 
first time, all I was interested in was myself. All I cared 
about the world was what I could get out of it. I 
thought I was the only one in the world with any ambi- 
tion to better myself." 

" You are different," Pop insisted. 

" To you, maybe. You see, Pop, to you I'm differ- 
ent, and all the others are the same. But take Jerry. 


Somebody probably thinks he's different, and the rest of 
us are the same. And somebody probably thinks the 
same thing about Gabby. And that goes for every man 
who works in every plant in the country. We are dif- 
ferent — in the same way." 


"We're different people, but we've got the same 
problems. We all want to get along. We've all got 
different abilities, but we all want the same chance to 
use those abilities." 

" Is that a reason for turning down a chance to get 

" This kind of chance," Hollis answered. " The way 
I figure it, at first each worker thought he was so dif- 
ferent from the others that he wouldn't get together 
with his fellows. But finally the workers realized that 
they had to get together to get along at all. Then, 
when the unions were organized, it only widened the 
split between the men and the company, and things 
were still bad. Now the unions and companies are get- 
ting together, and things are getting better for both." 

" Then take the union job," said Pop. " You'll be in 
a position to help lead the men to those better things 
you're talking about." 

" Can't and don't want to," said Hollis. " In the 
first place, it's not the job I'm really cut out for — " 

" But you've already proved you're a born leader," 
interrupted Pop. 

" I'm a mechanic," insisted Hollis. " What leading 
I do from now on I'll do from the ranks. I'll really be 


more good to my union as an ordinary member. Men 
trust me. So does the company. I want to be among the 

" Right now unions are still politics ridden, but the 
day is coming when only specially trained men will reach 
positions of leadership in the unions. I don't want to 
be a politician ever and if I took a job as a union leader 
I would want to qualify for it in the same way I want 
to qualify as an engineer. Because we need highly 
trained people as leaders in the unions to show us the 
way. And someday we'll have them — '' 

"But what about your future?" Pop persisted. 
" You may never get another chance like this again." 

*^ ril have to risk that." Hollis sought for words to 
explain how he felt to Pop. " You see, Pop, I have 
faith in the ability of the union to go a long way. It's 
done a lot for the men, but it can do more, now that It's 
working closer with the company. If I step out now, 
and take a good job, it will be as though I didn't have 
that faith. It would solve my personal problem right 
away to take either one of those jobs, but It wouldn't 
solve the big problem of all the others like me." 

*' You can't help that. You got the chance. A man 
has got to look out for himself first." 

Hollis smiled at these strange words from Pop. 

*' Look at it this way," he said. *' Suppose It had been 
Jerry who had tangled with the VSP man. He would 
have been In the position I was In, and probably offered 
the same jobs. What would that mean to me? Would 
it mean a better chance for me to get ahead, or for any 
of the others to get ahead ? Would it do anything to- 

^ 240 ^ 

ward solving the problems of all the rest of us ? Would 
it prove anything about the union? Not a thing, Pop." 

*' What do you want then? " asked Pop. 

" Well, the way it looks to me we've still got plenty 
to do to earn the right we've just gained to bargain with 
the company. We've got to earn it by proving that we 
are sensible, responsible men. And I feel I can help 
best in this by staying one of the rank and file. So, even 
if I stay on the assembly line all my life it will be worth 
it if we manage to build a new reputation for the unions 
which will gain the respect of the entire American peo- 
ple as well as the company bosses." 

Pop began to sputter protestingly, but Hollls only 
smiled again easily. 

" As I was saying. Pop, Pm a mechanic, and I still 
want to be an engineer. But I want my chance for the 
future to come in a way that might come to anybody 
else like me. Pm convinced that the real answer to mil- 
lions of individual problems is in some kind of system or 
arrangement that will give every man the opportunity 
to go as far as he is able, whether his ambition Is big or 
little. And then Pd get my chance too." 

" Sounds farfetched to me," said Pop. " Pm giving 
you my honest opinion." 

" It could happen," said Hollls. " It's got to happen. 
Pop, when I went to Motor City I found thousands like 
myself there. Think how many more like me there 
must be in the world, all hoping for a chance, wondering 
what to do, and looking for the same answer I am. 

" There's a big world outside Holden. Right now 
men are fighting and dying to change that world. It 

^241 ^ 

won't ever be the same again. It's either going to be a 
world where no one has a chance, or where everyone has 
a chance. I want the second world. 

" If all this fighting and struggling means anything, 
it means that our victory will be a victory for us ordi- 
nary people, and a better chance to see our dreams come 
true. It means a chance for every Hollis in the world, 
no matter where he may be, or when he will be born." 

" And you have the feeling you can help all that by 
going back to the assembly line? " 

Hollis nodded slowly. " I have. I'm convinced that 
the only way is for everyone to have an equal chance. 
And I've enough faith to take my chance with the oth- 
ers. We can do it. Pop. We're passing through bad 
times, but we've got the stuff to find an answer for ev- 
erybody. It won't be easy. There will be all kinds of 
misunderstandings, troubles, and bad mistakes. But 
we're moving forward, and that's what counts. 

" I'm sticking with my job and my union. If I ever 
get the chance in life I've wanted, it's going to come 
when I've earned it by the work I've done, and not be- 
cause of this or that big shot I've gotten to know. It's 
the only way to prove my faith in myself and in the ideas 
I believe." 

Pop smiled and took Hollis by the arm. " I like that 
kind of talk, Hollis. The old world is a mess, all right, 
and some of us don't know what to do about it. But 
it's like a farmer's old Ford : Hollis can Rx 'er." 

** Me? But Pop, you don't understand. That's not 
what I was saying." 

^ 242 "^ 

*' 'Course I didn't mean you personal, all by yourself," 
said Pop grumpily, wiping his forehead with his big red 
bandanna. " I mean like you said, boy. Every Hollis in 
the world, no matter where he is, or when he will be 



'ORN on a farm, Henry Vicar, 
too, finally came to the city to live. 
So it is not just from his extensive 
research alone that he writes the 
story of Mollis McEachron ; it is partly 
from his own experience. Mr. Vicar 
traveled widely in this country, 
Canada, and South America, gather- 
ing material and getting opinions 
from which to write this book. Au- 
thoritative in its details, it is also 
well-balanced in its treatment of the 
whole problem of relationships be- 
tween Capital and Labor. 

Keenly interested in all of the social 
problems which affect the function- 
ing of our system of government, 
Mr. Vicar has made a contribution 
TOOLS which will be appreciated 
by every thinking American, no 
matter what his position may be. 
It is full of keen observations and 
good, hard-headed American straight 
thinking from start to finish. 

BIG oafldh STORE 


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